This blog came to be when I realized there was simply not enough information available about cycling in the Milford, Pennsylvania area. With many miles of pavement, gravel roads, and lots of trails, Milford is an ideal cycling spot and a great place for the outdoor enthusiast.
Milford is a historic town that sits in the Delaware Valley in Pike County, along the Delaware River, bordering both New York and New Jersey. Milford has lots of cafes, restaurants, and quaint shops that make it a great place to start or finish a ride.
Stay tuned for lots of articles and photos on gravel rides, road rides, and even some mountain bike rides, all in the Milford area!
Usually, I stay in one place for at least a few weeks. However, this trip has been a long, strange ride through the south. I would normally take the road bike, but this time the ease associated with the folding bike made sense, as I would have to pack it up about every 4 days.
The first stop, Homewood, Alabama, borders Birmingham. An upscale bedroom community. Homewood is extremely hilly. My dawn patrol ride became the McMansion tour of the south. Atop every hill, it seemed that almost every home was incorporated into the landscape. The trees dwarfed the homes, creating a gorgeous setting.
Next, I was lucky enough to stay in Horn Lake, Mississippi. Horn Lake is another bedroom community, just north of Memphis, Tennessee. With very little time in the schedule to ride, I decided that I was going to split one ride between both states. My hotel, on the Mississippi side, was 2 miles from Memphis. I jumped out of the hotel and pedaled into traffic, crossing the state line for a 10 mile ride in Tennessee. On the way back, I passed the hotel, cruised around Horn Lake and avoided the oncoming hurricane by a few minutes.
It poured the entire next day as I drove to Little Rock, Arkansas, creating some down time to plan routes throughout the Rose City. My hotel was in North Little Rock, about 8 miles from downtown. With little time, my lunch ride from the hotel, was rather flat. A windy spin around North Little Rock that was pretty uneventful. A few days later, I hit the jackpot. A tip, sent me over to the Big Dam Bridge.
Originally intended to be called Murray Bridge, the Big Dam Bridge spans the Arkansas River and Murray Lock and Dam between Little Rock and North Little Rock and is open only to pedestrian and bicycle traffic. At 4,226 feet in length it is the longest pedestrian/bicycle bridge in North America that has never been used by trains or motor vehicles. It rises to 90 feet over the Arkansas River and 30 feet over the dam. The span over the river is 3,463 feet, with the ramps on either side of the river accounting for the rest of the length. The southern end of the bridge is near Little Rock’s Murray Park, while the northern end is at Cook’s Landing Park in North Little Rock.
You exit the bridge on the Arkansas River Trail. A smoothly paved cycleway that runs through beautiful landscape to and through downtown Little Rock. You glide across the Arkansas River and over several bridges before arriving in the downtown section of the city. I can’t wait for my next visit to the area. I’ll bring the Ritchey to explore even more of the Arkansas Trail.
All and all, I was pleasantly surprised at how hilly the south is. Not mountainous, but compared to the Mid West, it was a nice change to be able to climb a little.
My return home, however short it may be, is enough to renew my spirits. Being away from family, friends and familiarity is difficult for long stretches at a time. I took a few days off the bike to rest and recover from long work days and travel.
Wanting to get back in the woods, I hopped on the gravel bike and pedaled into the Delaware State Forest to regain some more familiarity. As soon as I crossed through the deer trail that connects my community and the forest, my stress level dropped significantly. Being away so long, I forgot how beautiful the beginning of fall foliage is. The through roads were littered with fallen leaves and acorn, but not so much that you couldn’t see the gravel surface.
About halfway through my ride, I crossed onto the Burnt Mills Snowmobile Trail system. With the addition of new gravel to cover the rip rap, this trail is becoming one of my favorite routes through the forest. It has some short, steep climbs, as well as loose, twisty descents, dropping narrowly through thick brush and wetland before climbing back up. Most of the trail system sits just below, but parallel to Flat Ridge Road.
My ride back was filled with the sights and sounds of Northeast Pennsylvania, enough to fill my head with happy thoughts as I hit the road again in a few days. Here’s a few more pics:
What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – Billy Joel – The Stranger
I miss home. I miss my family. I miss my dog. But as long as I have to travel, I will always venture out to check out the local cycling culture. My recent trip to St. Louis, gave me a chance to see the city and county from my steel steed. My impression of St. Louis is two fold. I see an urban area that is struggling. I also see proud people, regardless of race, outside together riding, running and living in a world so filled with all the world’s problems. I see proud sports fans from all walks of life, clinging to their beloved Cardinals and Blues.
I was able to get out a few times on this trip to explore some of the urban landscape from two wheels and venture a little further out to sample one of the gems of the mid-west. Not Mountainous, but by no means is St. Louis flat. At least, not until you hit some of the incredible paved cycleways and gravel trails.
I had an opportunity to pedal out of the city to Creve Coeur Lake. From there, you can experience miles of beautiful roads, paths and even jump on The Katy Trail, a 240 mile crushed limestone rail trail that traverses the state of Missouri. I couldn’t help myself. I jumped on the section from Creve Coeur to St. Charles. The gravel is hard packed. I was not the only one on a road bike, but maybe the only one with 25mm tires. I only rode about 12 miles on the trail, but I would like to go back and spend a weekend across the entire network.
As I capped a hill, on my back to the hotel, I saw the sun, so red (probably from the western forest fires) it looked like it would explode. I’ll be home soon, for maybe a week, but you can bet I’ll squeeze a few miles in and hopefully get to paddle a little before the cold weather comes.
For the first time in 19 years, the Tour de Force, like many other charity rides, went virtual. Some sporting events and races have been able to push on as originally planned. The formation of a theoretical bubble and strict testing policies have made this possible. We are a charity ride, with not a lot of funds to spare. With 300 riders and more than 50 support staff in hotels for 4 nights, it seemed like an impossible task to keep everyone safe.
My brother Mike had an idea to convert this year’s edition to a virtual ride. Each rider would pedal 70-75 miles on a route of their choice. We would stage a live event to send the riders off from their start lines and finish with another live event complete with raffles and prizes for top fundraisers.
Many smaller group rides were formed. Our New Jersey team rode from Shanksville, PA to Pittsburgh, honoring the victims of flight 93 that perished on 9/11. Team Colorado, the Adirondack Garda, Team East Coasters, Team East Colfax, Team Rockland County Shields along with NYPD Cycling and many others put on amazing rides in their respective regions. We hosted a ride that took us on a 73 mile loop from Goshen, NY around to New Paltz, through Newburgh and back to Goshen.
I’ve never been prouder of everyone involved. We are raising money for the families of Police Officers killed in the line of duty, nationwide. Not an easy task these days. But done in an atmosphere when it’s suddenly ok to kill Police Officers and scream to defund or worse yet, get rid of Police Departments all together. I will not go any further, because I do not want to take away from the amazing efforts by so many. I can’t wait to see everyone in 2021.
On September 12, the Tour de Force, a charity ride that I co founded and have been a board member of since 2002, is hosting its virtual ride. Normally, we ride from New York to Washington, DC or New York to Boston over four days. However, due to the Covid 19 restrictions and a general concern for all involved, we decided a one day, 75 mile ride, done virtually is the way to go. We will connect with riders from around the country, via Facebook live at the start, then we get to go out and actually ride. Normally the logistics do not allow us time on the bike, during the event.
While I have been riding pretty regularly all year, I still wanted to get one long ride in about 2 weeks before. So, last Sunday I departed Milford for a tri-state loop, touching New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. I pedaled over the Milford Bridge, up Deckertown Turnpike, down New Road and back on Rt. 206 to Clove Road for a roller coaster ride into Montague, NJ. I crossed into Port Jervis, NY via Rt. 23 and turned right to climb Neversink Drive. A right hand turn had me follow Rt. 209 to Guymard Turnpike. A mile in and the roughly 2.5 mile climb begins. It’s fairly gradual for about 2 miles before the grade kicks up to just about 12-15%.
After dropping down to Old Mountain Road and hammering over to Rt. 6 for a 3 mile descent, I took River Road back to Deckertown Turnpike and this time went left on New Road, taking it back to Clove Road and over the Milford Bridge for a cruise back into town.
The following day, I went for a mountain bike ride through the Delaware State Forest to enjoy a slower paced ride and give my legs a chance to recover from the previous day. As I crossed onto Irish Swamp Trail, I encountered a medium sized Black Bear. He was as startled as I was. But lumbered off as I pushed through.
Today, I decided a little climbing was in order. My goal was simple. Just pedal uphill. I parked in Port Jervis and after crossing the Tri-States Bridge, I veered up Rt. 6. The 3 mile climb averaged about 7-8%. I turned right on Old Mountain Road and another right to climb the back side of Greenville Turnpike. A series of short steep hills lead to a sweet 3 mile descent which is what I needed to recharge my legs for a turnaround at the bottom. I immediately charged back up Greenville Turnpike for another 3 mile climb and pushed on all the way to Rt. 6. The short steep ascent led to 1 more 3 mile descent.
The mileage was short, but the elevation gained was not. With six days out from the event, I’ll add some easy miles and eat clean. No music today, just prayers and gratitude for our frontline heroes: EMT’s and Medical Personnel, Police and Fire Departments.
Whenever I return from an elongated work trip, I immediately jump right back out into the Delaware State Forest. Pedaling from home, gives me the freedom to pick my routes and decided just how long and how far I’ll ride.
This summer, I’ve found some new roads and trails that have sparked my interest. This ride was no different. I set out at around noon and rode through my community to the deer trail that leads to Five Mile Meadow Road. A new layer of gravel made for a slower journey, as the loose surface had not yet been packed down by the many trucks that will populate the forest in about 5 weeks (hunting season). A right on Silver Lake Road, a half mile climb and a right onto Little Mud Pond Road.
I crossed Silver Lake and dropped into the Burnt Mills Trail System. After about 4 miles, most of the Rip Rap is gone, except for the last half mile. Right before the trail crosses Bushkill Falls Road, I hung a left on Thunder Swamp Trail. A Jeep Trail, that has a sand surface in spots, Thunder Swamp loops back around to Coon Swamp Road and onto Flat Ridge Road.
I headed back on Five Mile Meadow Road, after looping through Little Mud Pond once more and made my way home. It Just happened to be a beautiful day. After a month in the Midwest, it’s good to be home in my backyard gravel playground. I’ll make another trip. This time to Missouri, in three weeks time. I’m told that the Katy Trail, which traverses the entire state, goes right through my base camp, Maryland Heights. I’ll have to figure out how to get my gravel bike there to explore this iconic trail system.
What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – Joe Jackson – Look Sharp
For those of you that did not grow up in the last 30 years, you know what this title refers to. I couldn’t wait to use it here. Minnesota Fats was the quintessential Pool hustler and Billiards player that inspired the character in the 1961 film, “The Hustler”, played by Jackie Gleason. Fats’ career spanned for more than 50 years. Now, if your thinking that the title infers that suburban Minneapolis is hilly, think again. I did log a few rides with over 1,000 feet of elevation, but I had to really get creative. After a little over 200 miles in 5 days, I found Bloomington to be a community built around cycling.
With bike lanes and paved bike paths all around Bloomington and parks littered with trails and paths (called cycleways in Minnesota), there’s a place for anyone to ride. Bloomington is also home to QBP, one of the world’s largest bicycle and parts distributors.
Now, there are some hills here, not the long, steep hills we see in the northeast or the high elevation, monster ascents in the Rockies, but short punchy climbs, just difficult enough to get your attention. I did find myself doing some repeats up these hills towards the end of my rides. Normandale Mt. Road jets up off Normandale Blvd, through a suburban neighborhood, reminiscent of the start of some of the most iconic European climbs.
But the real gem here are the bike lanes and sidewalks built for cycling. Both sides of almost every main road has either a bike lane or sidewalk, designed around fitness activities. You would think that with the cold, snowy, long winters, cycling would have a short season. Not so, Minnesotans ride year round. After all, it is the home of the fat bike. Even in summer, Minnesotans pedal these beefy machines on the streets, trails and in the parks. So, there you have it, Minnesota Fats.
Whats Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding). Today – Simon and Garfunkel – Homeward Bound
I was finally able to get out and explore Minneapolis yesterday. With extremely hot and sticky weather, I left my hotel at 8am and drove into downtown, parking at the bottom of Portland Street at Mill Ruins Park. My goal was to circumvent the city on the Grand Rounds Bike Path. I hopped on and rode along the Mississippi River through the downtown area and out past the University of Minnesota.
There was a lot of construction and the detours made for some nifty adjustments as I fell off the path and ripped through the park and back onto the blacktop trail. This was not going to be a speedy ride, it was more like a tour of Minneapolis. Latte sipping youth, walking 2 and 3 across made for some sudden stops and quick reactions.
I pedaled out through some gorgeous neighborhoods and into the lake regions. Circling Lake Harriet and Lake Bde Maka Ska, I saw an amazing amount of people kayaking, paddleboarding, running, cycling and camping all right inside the city limits.
Minneapolis has a very small downtown, but large suburban type neighborhoods with endless miles of bike trails. It really is a great outdoor city. That said, I got turned around in the lake region and headed back towards the car down Hennepin Avenue to Washington Avenue, back to Portland Street and into Mill Ruins Park.
This week, I’ll explore suburban Bloomington and points north of the city.
After 4 months of discussing the pandemic, riding in the pandemic and our new environment, my job has decided that business travel is safe again. So, I arrived in Minneapolis on Wednesday and will make this my home for the next 3 plus weeks.
I’ve heard a lot about what a cycling friendly city Minneapolis is, so of course, I brought a bike along to escape the long work days in my hotel room and to explore everything the twin cities have to offer.
Minneapolis and St. Paul are littered with bike lanes through both cities. I parked at Crosby Farm and rode down Shepard Road in St. Paul, along the Mississippi River, passing numerous parks, The Hidden Falls and through beautiful neighborhoods. Shepard Road brought me through St. Paul and into Minneapolis. I don’t know if everything was closed because of the pandemic or because it was 6:30am, but it was extremely empty as I cruised down S. Washington Ave. I made my way up Lexington Prkwy. and hopped back across to St. Paul and dropped back onto Shepard Road.
Neither city is huge, but Minneapolis has a larger, more urban feel to it. St. Paul, while having its own trendy downtown, has a more suburban feel to it with seemingly less traffic. Together there are about 800,000 people in the Twin Cities.
Pedaling through Minneapolis was fun, but slow. The bike lanes are multi use and lots of people use them to walk, 2 and 3 abreast. So, extra attention is needed to avoid walkers and oncoming cyclists.
Minneapolis has a paved bike trail that goes completely around the city. This 50 mile stretch of well thought out urban thoroughfare is called the Grand Rounds. I Will check it out one day this week, although, I’ll need a very early start to avoid the foot traffic. I intend to bring my coffee and make the most of the morning. Stay tuned….
Working from home the last three months has found me riding all too often, the same roads and trails. While I was traveling, I couldn’t wait to get back to my little piece of heaven. Now don’t get me wrong, for this mid 50’s pedal pusher, this is cycling nirvana. But every now and then, I like to spread my wings and venture out a bit farther.
I’ve parked in the gravel lot at the trailhead for the Maple Run ATV/Snowmobile trails, before heading up to the High Knob on occasion. Today, I decided to venture in. To my surprise, the trail, a loosely packed dirt and gravel road was pristine. I experienced a small sample of this trail system, taking in 11 miles of thick hard woods, a pine forest and steep steep hills under the power lines.
While there are many more trails here to explore, I jumped across Rt. 402 to climb to the High Knob. It seems the PA DCNR has covered the road with fresh gravel, making the climb a little more difficult than usual. The views at the top never disappoint, neither does the descent. I cruised back to the parking area, excited to add this new wrinkle into an all day gravel ride.
What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – The Pretenders – My City Was Gone
I thought I’d moved on from outlining my observations about this pandemic. I was wrong. I’ve told you about my fears and explained the precautions I’ve taken. For three months now, I like many other people have been consumed with everything that is this pandemic. However, being an observant person has caused me to see the real change here. Just like after 9/11, people struggled for a time then eventually, they adapted to the new normal and thrived.
What I noticed today was breathtaking. People were outside, at barbecues, in parks, running, walking and cycling. They were eating outside at restaurants, towing boats to the lakes and going about their lives. Of course, most were wearing masks, but regardless of the situation, people are finding a way to thrive. With all the other shit going on in the world, this is still here. But, we are winning the war with this invisible killer, because we are not lying down.
That said, on the most beautiful of days, I was able to score two rides. First, I got out this morning for a 45 mile solo spin from my house, out to Rt. 739, down Log Tavern Road. I jumped into the Pocono Mountain Woodlands ( the gate was open) and pedaled over to Raymondskill Road. A left on Frenchtown Road took me up to Rt. 6. Turning left, I fought the wind a little, but managed to make it to Costas Family Fun Park. This seemed like a good place to turn around and head home.
Flying down Rt. 6, I took Rt. 739 up past Pike County Blvd, navigated the weekend traffic as I slithered through Lords Valley and into Hemlock Farms for a short loop, before returning to Rt. 739 and subsequently into my community to hit 2 more hills before arriving home.
After a little lunch and a few hours of stacking firewood, my son suggested a ride in the Port Jervis Watershed. We loaded the bikes on the car and headed out. By 7pm, we were ripping through the woods. Maybe I overdid it today as the force of every rock was reverberating through my upper body. Maybe I’m just old. Either way, it was nice to be out there and I did not want this incredible day to end. But all good things come to an end. I will savor the memory of this day for a long time.
Stay tuned for some more product reviews.
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today – Electric Light Orchestra – “The way life’s meant to be”
In my opinion, tires reviews are overdone. There are too many tires for the average rider to choose from and the endless choices can be quite confusing. While I do not review every piece of equipment I ride, occasionally I come across something that really stands out to me.
First, I do consider myself an avid gravel grinder. About 60-70% of my rides are on gravel. Second, there are many different surfaces that can be considered gravel. I won’t go into all of them, but pretty much anything that extends beyond pavement has been called gravel. What we have in Northeastern Pennsylvania is thick 1”-1 1/2” gravel chunks on most state forest roads. This calls for a beefy tire.
700X40C is your average size for a big gravel tire. In the last year, I’ve sampled A few different brands. I’ve never purchased Maxxis tires before, because I honestly thought they were overpriced. Wow, was I wrong. Last August, I installed a pair of Maxxis Ravager 700c X 40mm EXO Tubeless Ready tires. Set up tubeless, these tires excelled from the word go. A lot of gravel tires are made to be fast, but cannot handle anything rougher than pea gravel or a dirt road. The Ravager is a super supple tire that ripped right through the gravel, mud, rip rap, singletrack, busted up pavement and anything I could throw at it.
From Maxxis’ website:
The Ravager is a gravel tire for the riders out there willing to brave aggressive terrain with only their drop bars and a tiny amount of rubber beneath them. While other tires are designed to let you ride beyond the end of the road, the Ravager opens up new line choices, camping spots, and epic adventures where no road ever existed. Raised square-edged center knobs provide climbing and braking traction on moon dust covered trails, and oversized cornering knobs keep you and your gear out of the dirt to conquer another turn.
EXO protection is an additional layer of protection incorporated into the sidewall of the tire designed to greatly increase the puncture and slash resistance without compromising the feel of the tire. The EXO layer is exceptionally dense whilst still being light and flexible making it very versatile.
After about 600 miles, I can honestly say that these tires still have plenty of tread left. I’ve bounced off many sharp rocks while pedaling off the beaten path and the sidewalls have held up. I usually run them between 30-55 psi. They accelerate rather well on dry surfaces and provide enough traction through the messy stuff to be your year round tire. Give the Ravager a try. I assure you, they are well worth the $60 asking price.
While riding in the woods most of the last few months, I’ve gotten out on the road a few times. I’ve told you of the precautions I’m taking, but like most people, the longer we endure this pandemic, the more comfortable I feel riding amid the traffic or what little traffic there currently is.
That being said, it’s kind of eerie pedaling from Rt. 739 into Milford on Rt. 6 and only seeing a handful of cars. With schools closed and most people out of work or working from home, the roads are more bicycle friendly than they’ve been in years.
With less cars to worry about, you begin to take notice of your surroundings. Seeing so many stores closed, I started to wonder which businesses will endure this economic crisis and how many people will be affected by the ones that have to close their doors now or in the near future. These are sad times.
Getting back to cycling. Spring is almost over, but summer is all but here. The trees are green, the air is warm and the flowers are blooming everywhere. There’s a lot to see out there. Get out and ride.
Don’ forget to thank our local front line heroes: any employees in the medical field, first responders, delivery men, supermarket and pharmacy employees, restaurant employees, utility workers, plumbers, electricians and anyone that keeps showing up for work, so the rest of the world can self isolate. Do your part. Wear your mask and gloves when you must leave the house.
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – Tony Carey – I Won’t Be Home Tonight
My last post summarized my ride through a section of Irish Swamp Trail. Part 2 could and should bring the navigation of this byway to some sort of a conclusion. It does not. My routes have all but eliminated that area for now. Fortunately, I decided that I would ride to the beginning of Five Mile Meadow Road and across Rt. 739. This gravel roadway goes another mile past the State Route, all the way to I84.
About a half mile from the end, a new road appeared. On the left hand side, I noticed a road cut out along the power lines. It was extremely hilly, chopped up and looked like it went for miles. I took the left and made my way up the heavily traveled roadway. Most of the road was large, 4-6 inch stone. This makes it difficult to glide over. Both sides of the road appeared to be recently logged.
That section of Five Mile Meadow Road has been off limits to bikes for a couple of years now. I’ve stayed off the road since, but Friday was different. I looked but did not see the sign, so I guess I took advantage and pedaled down to check out an old haunt. This is also accessible from the mountain bike trails that sit between Sunrise Lakes and I84, near Rattlesnake Creek. A mtb would be a little more suitable as there is some technical singletrack that connects these two gems.
After riding back into the center of the forest, I ventured up Silver Lake Road and to my surprise, a white horse stood where 2 dogs normally alert the entire county that I’m climbing up that hill. It was a malnourished looking beast, appearing like it was content being nursed back to health. A quick rip up Standing Stone Trail and back through the deer path to my community, left me satisfied that I hit a good portion of this magical natural beauty without touching the Northeast section or Irish Swamp. More fun to be had….
What’s Playing, (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding). Today – Ike and Tina Turner- Proud Mary
Discovering new trails opens you up to new adventures. When you find a new road or trail that’s close to one of your normal routes, you wonder why you haven’t opted for this detour and where will it lead. Often, these detours are old Jeep tracks that wind through the woods connecting logging roads and snow mobile trails.
Over the last few years, while in the Delaware State Forest, I’ve passed a trail marker for Elbow Swamp Rd and Irishman Swamp Trail. Today, I needed to get deeper into the woods, a little further from civilization than I normally go. Although I’ve been riding solo, I needed to pedal aimlessly through the unknown.
Just south of Standing Stone Trail, off Silver Lake Road, Irishman Swamp is a long double track trail that sits extremely low, taking on more than its share of water. I rode a couple of miles in to an area called Bald Barren, a thick patch of land that sits between Flat Ridge Road and Silver Lake Road. I did not have time to investigate how I could connect to the Burnt Mills Trail system or Flat Ridge Road. Further exploration is imminent.
Being there brought back memories of the places I’ve rode in the last year. Traveling for work has brought me ample opportunity to ride in virgin territory. These thoughts are not good. They’re making me want to explore, like nothing is going on in the world. Like everything is normal, “the old normal”. But, as the sun goes down, I glide out of the forest and back into my community, face mask on, bottles covered, happy I could venture out once more and hopeful I can do it again.
What’s Playing (What am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – Frida – I Know There’s Something Going On (1982)
Although I have been riding both on the road and in the woods, I am still trying to figure out what the best course of action is to keep myself safe and to set a good example. While I have been wearing a face covering on all rides and riding alone 100% of the time, I still wonder, is it safe to ride along side the car going in the same direction as you or past the car going in the opposite direction, with the windows open.
If 6 feet is the safe distance when 2 people are standing still, then what’s the safe distance of a car flying by in either direction with the windows open as the driver sneezes, coughs or spits? I haven’t found any found any material suggesting what that distance would be. What I have found is some information regarding groups of cyclists riding together. While I know this is a sore point for many, I have been preaching that you should be riding alone. Recent research backs this up. I pulled a chart from a well read cycling blog, showing what the safe distances are for various activities. It shows that while slower activities require less of a distance, cycling at high speeds requires about 40 feet.
On my recent rides, I have placed a strip of packing tape over the nipple of my water bottles. This may be a bit extreme, but it seems as the weather gets warmer, most driver’s have the windows open. I ordered a couple of water bottles with flip off lids to keep any flying fluids off the top of my bottles.
None of this is backed by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) or WHO (World Health Organization), just an uninformed cyclist, navigating these crazy times.
We have not done a contest in quite some time. With a lot of people sheltering in place and working from home, Riding Milford has been getting plenty of views and a lot more followers. I think we have people who are putting in an enormous amount of miles and on the opposite side of the spectrum, people who used to ride regularly, but during this new environment, are getting outside to pedal for a little exercise and vitamin D.
This has been a crazy time in history and it’s far from over. To keep everyone interested, I thought it would be a good idea to get more people out there with a distance or climbing challenge. On second thought, if anyone gets hurt, this is not a time you want to end up in the emergency room. So, I think a photo contest is in order. The weather is starting to get warm and the days are getting longer, providing ample riding opportunities.
The winner gets a pair of Tifosi Optics Crit sunglasses in Matte Gunmetal with Polarized Fototec Light Changing Lenses. A $100 value.
Made of Grilamid TR-90, a homopolyamide nylon characterized by an extremely high alternative bending strength, low density, and high resistance to chemical and UV damage. Hydrophilic rubber ear and nose pieces for a no-slip fit. Adjustable ear and nose pieces for a customizable, comfortable fit. Vented lenses improve air circulation, prevent fogging.
So, all I need from you are some fabulous pics of your bike in nature. The only twist that makes this different from previous photo contests is you. The pic has to be a selfie with your bike and you wearing a face covering or mask. Have fun with it. I’d like to see what everyone is wearing. You can send me your photo to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your first name and where your photo was taken. We will run this through May.
I will then post the photos and ask you, the readers, to vote by leaving a comment. I can’t wait to see your pics!
What’s Playing (What am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), Today – Johnny Nash – I Can See Clearly Now
Are you wondering when this will end? Do you dream about getting outside and riding through the woods? Is riding a stationary bike or trainer getting to you? For most people who read this, the answer is yes. But, unless you live in the few areas that strictly prohibit outdoor activities, it’s healthy to get outside, just do it alone or with someone you co-habituate with.
It seems now that each state is going to decide when business can open and which businesses can open. The medical profession thinks it’s too soon. Some say this is not going away and getting back to business, sort of speak, will hopefully help the herd build an immunity. I do not know what the answer is.
What I do know is that sitting home, whether you’re working from home or not working at all and not getting any exercise in, is not good. A sedentary lifestyle breeds depression. You don’t have to be a psychiatrist to figure that out. Staying inside all the time is not good for the mind or the body.
So, escape to the woods. Ride that patch of trail you’ve always seen but didn’t have the time to explore. Hike up that mountain near your hideaway and take a stroll around the neighborhood, just to get some sunlight and see where you live from a different perspective. Make sure you wear a face mask or cover, don some light gloves and cover the top of your water bottles.
In hope you like my throwback photos
A few days ago, I was pedaling through the incredible state forest that I’m lucky enough to live less that a mile from. I couldn’t help but think how lucky I was to be sheltering in place, yet able to do the one activity that I love. I am riding way more now than this time in previous years. Don’t get me wrong, I wish this had never happened and I hope it ends very soon. But until it does, get out there and grab some vitamin D.
Please remember to thank any employees in the medical field, first responders, delivery men, supermarket and pharmacy employees, restaurant employees, utility workers, plumbers, electricians and anyone that keeps showing up for work, so the rest of the world can self isolate. Do your part. Wear your mask and gloves when you must leave the house. Do not ride in groups or hang out with anyone that you do not live with. If everyone cooperates, we can slowly integrate back into society in the near future.
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – The Waiting
It’s been quite some time since I’ve pedaled through the old Boy Scout Camp off Five Mile Meadow Road. Closed since before I was born, this swath of forest sits between Five Mile and Rt. 739. The Pennsylvania DCNR purchased the property a few years back from a developer and in the last few years, they’ve removed every structure or any sign that a camp ever existed, annexing it into the Delaware State Forest.
Since, the removal of materials, the old Jeep roads and walking paths have made some really nice mountain bike trails, from the road, out to the copper field, back through the camp and down the hill to Rock Hill Pond, a serene body of water, surrounded by a lush, green forest.
I love incorporating the camp into a ride, usually at the end, just before I exit the woods and enter my community. Recently, with the lake communities experiencing large summer like crowds, due to the pandemic, the camp area has seen lots of hikers and visitors, trying to get outside and enjoy the fresh air.
You could park at the gate, right on Five Mile Meadow Road, across from Standing Stone Trail and hike in and have lunch by the lake, but you know I’m an advocate of pedaling in and seeing the entire swath of woods. There is even a parking lot, just off Rt. 739. The road from the lot leads up past the copper fields, past where the old bunk houses were, connecting to the main camp area. Check it out. Here’s some old pics from previous posts inside the camp, when a lot of the structures still stood.
Some pics from previous posts inside the camp
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), Today – Gino Vannelli – Living Inside Myself
As I mentioned in my last post, I’m trying to get some projects done around the house as well as some fun bike builds that are long overdue, while I have extra time that is usually spent commuting or traveling for work. Being lucky enough to work from home, I can squeeze in a few weekly rides and I’m making progress on the honey do list.
To build up a Ritchey Breakaway frame that I was traveling with, I stripped the drivetrain, wheels and a few other bits from my Kona Honky Tonk. Being on the road for 3 out of every 4 weeks, I just did not have time to re-build the Tonk. I was always very fond of the way this bike, a 2012 model, accelerated, climbed and descended.
I decided to use a 16 year old 9 speed drivetrain. Shimano 105 shifters and front and rear derailleurs. Both the left shifter and front derailleur are for a triple chainring setup. I modified it for a double, compact crankset. I went with a new SRAM Rival 50/34 crank and a SRAM 970 11-32 cassette with a KMC 9 speed chain. The mix of parts worked out extremely well.
For the cockpit, I went with a Velo Orange Nouveau Randonneur Handlebar, Velo Orange Threadless Stem, Velo Orange Grand Cru Headset, a Velo Orange Grand Cru Zero Setback Seatpost and a Salsa Liplock Seatpost Binder, all in a silver finish.
For the touch points, I went with a Brooks B17 Cambrium Saddle in tan. For now, black Cannondale bar tape, because that’s what I had in the garage. Some brown tape is in the works. Velo Orange Moderniste Stainless Steel bottle cages, Speedplay Zero Chromoly Pedals and an old Mavic Ksyrium SL Wheelset in silver, round out the build.
Here’s a few more pics of this 4130 Chromoly steel steed with a steel fork.
If your anything like me, for the most part, your avoiding the daily news like the plague. I’ve found that constant exposure to the negative, can be quite depressing. Although, living in the northeast with my roots in New York, I hear everyday about people I know that have the virus or who have passed away due to the virus.
I am, however, adjusting to the way we have to live, during these uncertain times. I’m having my food delivered from the supermarket, sanitize everything before bringing it in the house, wash my hands constantly and keeping away from anyone that does not live under the same roof.
I usually work until the late afternoons, sneaking some yard work in at lunchtime, then outside for a ride or long walk, complete with face mask and gloves. At night, I’ve been working on a few projects, to keep from watching too much television.
I stripped my Kona Honky Tonk down to the frame, to build up my Ritchey Breakaway. All parts were switched over, except for handlebar, stem, seat post, brakes and headset. This frame received a 9 speed Shimano 105 drivetrain, Mavic Ksyrium SL wheelset and a new Brooks B17 Cambium saddle. Of course all new cables, housing and bar tape rounded out the build. I kept the Continental Grand Prix 23mm tires that were on the wheels for now.
My rides have been a real uplifting experience. I’ve been reading that the trails and parks are full (the ones that are still open), but my little slice of heaven seems to be completely void of people. I can ride gravel roads and not worry about passing cars or trucks. Road rides are a little trickier, but I can get creative and pedal along an 8 mile loop a few times, without hitting the main roads.
Please remember to thank any employees in the medical field, first responders, delivery men, supermarket and pharmacy employees, restaurant employees, utility workers, plumbers, electricians and anyone that keeps showing up for work, so the rest of the world can self isolate. Do your part. Wear your mask and gloves when you must leave the house. Do not ride in groups or hang out with anyone that you do not live with. Hopefully, if everyone cooperates, we can slowly integrate back into society in the near future.
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – The Police – Don’t Stand So Close To Me
Ok, I have not been able to update this piece every week. Not because I cannot ride, but because my family lost our beloved Mom. Social distancing has made mourning difficult to say the least. Not being able to mourn with my siblings, was hard. But, I’ve learned just how strong my brothers and sister really are. All 3 are my heroes! Everyone is suffering right now. The world has changed and will continue to change as we navigate through this. Sitting at home, I’ve been able to spend quality time with my family. I’ve even video chatted with my daughter, whose staying with my brother and her cousins each and every day. I’m taken aback by the generosity that is all around us.
Being fortunate enough to still be working (from home for the time being), I am able to get outside and turn the pedals a little. I prefer riding from my house to the gravel roads, but an occasional road ride is in order as well.
In my last post, I mentioned riding with a friend. That has not happened since and won’t happen again until it is safe. Nasal droplets coming from a rider or runner can travel 4 times as far in the wind or slipstream compared with a person that is standing still. Besides, it sends a negative message to other people that cyclists are not practicing social distancing. Unless you live under the same roof, you should not ride together. I realize I might catch some negative comments to that statement, but if you really stop and thing about it, it makes sense.
What I have been happy to see is that people are still getting out there. As a matter of fact, IMBA has been reporting that trail systems across the country have been getting a lot more use. I think this is where I should say that riding with a mask is a good idea. Anytime your outside your home is a good time to wear a face covering, especially when your on a bike or on the trails.
I thought about creating some sort of virtual challenge on strava to help pass the time and keep people riding, but decided against it, as this is not a good time to crash and go to the hospital. So, ride on, but be careful, they’ll be plenty of time to set PR’s and race your friends when life returns to the new normal. Stay healthy!
With Social Distancing, Self Quarantine and Shelter in Place becoming the new norm, life as we know it has taken on a whole new meaning. However this shakes out, as a world, we will be forever changed.
If you read my last post at cyclingtravelguide.com, you’ll know that I had to depart my work trip a few days early and drive back from Chicago. While grounded for the time being, I’ve been able to get away from my laptop A few hours a day and hit the pavement, gravel and singletrack, that’s abundant in and around Milford. I’ve pedaled with friends (6 feet apart), my son and alone.
I’ve actually stayed quite close to my home, riding through the community, my gravel kingdom and the trails that surround the forest. It’s been weird seeing so many people out there, walking and hiking, especially on the week days. I guess everyone needs to get out of the house and soak in some Vitamin D.
For those that cannot go to work, this forced vacation is a time that can be spent safely with family, in the outdoors and is a great time to get some home projects done. And remember to thank everyone that is putting their health at risk by going to work every day: Supermarket employees, pharmacies, restaurants, gas stations, truck drivers, delivery services, plumbers, electricians, mechanics and all the great people that keep the world afloat, including all Health Care Workers and First Responders.
I’ll keep this going each week until it comes to some kind of conclusion. Stay safe, be positive and clean everything. We are all in this together, I mean separately.
It’s been a few months since I’ve had any real content to post here. If you’ve read my other page, cyclingtravelguide.com, you know that I’ve been traveling quite a bit. I finally spent more than a week at home. Twelve days to be exact. With time on my hands, I’m always going to find that window to get out and ride.
The Delaware State Forest and McDade Trail are my go-to places to grind some gravel. I managed to get a few rides at each venue while at my home base. I have been lucky enough to enjoy the warm late February weather we’ve been having, never donning the winter gear. While much of the country has been hit hard with snow and cold temperatures, Northeast Pennsylvania has been spared this year.
I won’t bore you with details of my ride, but I was excited to get back in the woods, climb some hills and dream about long days in the saddle. Here are some pics from the past week and a half.
What’s Playing? (What am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today – Journey – Wheel in the Sky
On Tuesday, I received an email from Feedspot, that Riding Milford was placed on a list of Top 100 Cycling Blogs on the web.
I wasn’t sure what that means, so I did a search to see how many cycling blogs there actually are. There are literally thousands. When I checked out Feedspot, I realized that the other blogs on the top 100 were a lot of what I read. So being placed at number 95 is an honor. Is this why I write Riding Milford? No! But it’s nice to know that someone other than me is reading it.
I like to believe that the readers, who have patiently read my stories, made the difference. So I say thank you!
Although, Riding Milford has been my favorite outlet, I’ve decided to start a new blog to help guide readers and myself along the path of the frequent traveler.
My work has been sending me around this great big country, and what better way to see each city or town, than from a bicycle.
That being said, Riding Milford will remain active.
Recently, I found out just how important riding a bike is to me. For many years, I’ve been able ride on a fairly regular basis. My family has been very understanding of my need to get outside and pedal for a few hours on most days and work has always allowed me to get enough miles in to satisfy my urge.
You see, the last few years have been about getting out on a bike as much to clear my head as it was to purely ride for the fun of it. There may be better ways to relieve stress, but I sure can’t think of any.
About four months ago, I took a job that requires a good deal of traveling. It took about 4 trips of about 2 weeks each, for me to learn my craft and get comfortable in my new environment. Now I had to figure out how I was going to be able to squeeze in some miles while on the road.
Since the stationary bikes at the hotel gyms were completely out of the question, I investigated the breakaway frames from Ritchey and Surly. Both would do the trick but would prove rather costly to check with the airlines.
A recent trip to a midwestern bike shop, revealed that most big city shops have been refraining from road bike rentals due to the growing “City Bike” market in just about every urban environment. While in that shop, I noticed a folding bike. I even took it for a test ride.
I purchased one for my daughter when she was in college. A simple phone call revealed that she hadn’t used it in a couple of years. All I had to do was pick it up.
My first trip to the airport was Golden. The airline checked the bike for free. In it’s case, the bike weighed only 30 pounds and was under the oversized bag limits. Feeling like I’d solved the transportation issue, I was free to explore Kansas City on two wheels.
I won’t go into details or outline my routes, but I will say that I was able to set it up to fit my long, lanky frame and managed four rides in 12 days on a recent trip to Missouri. Not ideal, but better than an indoor suffer fest on a spin bike.
A few weeks later, I managed a few rides in the Dallas area with a few more in the San Bernadino, CA area. I really think I’m in love with the mountains on the west coast.
Mt. Rubidoux in Riverside was the highlight of my trip. Climbing on a folding bike proved no easy task, but riding in the shadows of Big Bear and Baldy was an incredible experience. Big Bear sits above 7,000 feet and Mt. Baldy is the iconic climb used in the Tour of California. Both were snow capped, just adding to their stunning beauty!
Stay tuned for a year in review post, coming up in early January. In the meantime, check out some more pics.
On Saturday, I met up with Brian and Nate for a guided tour of Eastern Wayne County. It was the first cold day of the year. 25 degrees at our 10:30am start. Gearing up for a mixed surface ride, I brought the Van Dessel WTF.
We pushed off from Whitney Lake, a beautiful, private lake community, just west of Lake Wallenpaupack. The gravel surface led us through several segments of pavement, well maintained gravel and dirt.
Brian mapped out an excellent course that was certainly not lacking in hills. 35 miles and about 3,300 feet of elevation was enough to satisfy my urge to climb. The short but steep ascents took me by surprise. It’s been quite a bit of time since I’ve really had to bear down. For the first half of the ride, I simply hung on to Nate’s wheel on the way up. Once I settled in (and it took me a while), I was fine. The descents were fun, although the biting cold air made you want to go uphill more than down. Although, it did warm up to about 33 degrees in the sun by the time we finished.
Wayne County is rural and ruggedly beautiful. It seems that every road leads to creeks, lakes and bridges with barns and rustic buildings as far as the eye can see. Most gravel roads, roll right through communities and you will not find an open business on the entire route. Cell service was a bit scant as well. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts about the Maple City Century, you better bring plenty of food and water and a few spare tubes if you plan to ride here.
I plan on coming back in the spring to ride this course without the extra layers. I’m sure it will be a lot more green and every bit as beautiful. Here’s a few more pics from this gorgeous area:
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today, Led Zeppelin – Black Dog
Recently, I had some free time. I took advantage by….. You guessed it, gravel grinding! Usually, I plan my rides at least a day in advance. When opportunity arises, I normally just pull out of the garage on my road bike and hammer around the community. However, this time was different. I had an appointment later in the day in the Stroudsburg area. So, I loaded my gravel bike in the car and headed out to the McDade Trail.
It was a bit cold, but at 38 degrees, about right for November. I decided to incorporate some hills, so starting in Bushkill and pedaling out to the end of the trail seemed to make sense. I parked at the Roost (a deli, situated across Rt. 209 from the trail), used the facilities, grabbed a water and shoved off.
I wrapped around the old gas station and dropped into the trail in just enough time to start climbing right out of the gate. At this point, the gravel is thick, making it loose and hard to pick up any traction. It took all I had to keep my weight back and grind up the hill. The next few miles were a series of steep climbs, switchbacks and soaring descents, all on gravel, tucked neatly into the woods, between Rt. 209 and the Delaware River. What a great way to spent the afternoon!
I crossed over the huge bridge, hammered along the river and cruised into the parking lot at Hialeah. After a little confusion, I made my way back over to River Road for a short tour through the tiny but quaint hamlet of Shawnee on the Delaware. I turned around and zipped back to the trail.
The ride back was just as pleasant as the ride out. A slight breeze and no sun, combined with all of Autumn’s amazing colors provided a beautiful setting for a fall ride. I have always liked this section of the trail, as it has a whole different feel than the middle portion from Dingman’s to Bushkill. If you have the extra time and climbing legs, bring your camera, a sandwich and coffee and enjoy one of the jewels of the Delaware Water Gap Nation Recreation Area.
What’s Playing (What am I listening to while writing and what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – America – You Can do Magic
A few months ago, I decided to sell one of my hardtails. I have been considering a Surly dirt road touring bike for some time. I just did not have enough room in the garage. I really liked the Ogre and the ECR for their ability to carry a heavy load over a big distance on rough terrain. But, I decided to go with the Karate Monkey which allows you to instal a suspension fork if you really want to hit some technical singletrack.
Surly frames are made of 4130 CroMoly Steel. This is especially dear to my heart. You can find lighter bikes for sure, but nothing rides like steel. The fork is also 4130 CroMoly steel and has enough bosses for all types of touring and bikepacking. The frame has ample bosses for 3 bottle cages or oversized gear cages. The Karate Monkey has rack and fender mounts, making it a more than worthy commuter. Modern touches, like thru axles and hydraulic disc brakes, really round out this solid offering.
After more than a handful of rides, I think I can supply opinion. First, as you know, I’m fond of steel bikes. Not in the way of vintage, but modern steel with a classic look. I’ve owned plenty of carbon and aluminum bikes. They are stiff, light and fast, but I prefer the plush ride of quality steel. I’ve pedaled through some rough, technical singletrack, gravel roads and Jeep trails. The ride quality is there. It’s pretty quick when it needs to be and smooth over rough terrain. The only drawback might be the weight. Loaded up for a weekend excursion, it probably wouldn’t be first up any hill. But that’s not why you buy this bike. You buy it because it’s versatile. It can be set up as a 29er, 27.5, single speed, geared or as Surly says in about 487 different configurations.
I was between sizes, so I decided on an XL frame. I did not want to be cramped on longer excursions. Because of the larger frame, I needed to shorten the stem, so I opted for an 80mm Salsa Guide. SRAM NX 11 speed shifters, 30t crankset and rear derailleur, paired with Sunrace’s 11-42t cassette make for a more than capable drivetrain, however, the SRAM Level brakes could probably be upgraded. The 27.5 X 3” Surly Dirt Wizard tires are up to the task. After a few rides, I purchased and installed a Surly Moloko handlebar. It offers multiple hand positions and handles just about any bag you throw on it. To spice it up a little, I slapped on a set of Kona Wah Wah pedals and Van’s Grips, both in purple.
If you want a rig that can handle singletrack, touring, bikepacking, gravel roads or Jeep trails, the Karate Monkey is your next bike!
What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today: The Animals – It’s all Over Now, Baby Blue
Occasionally, We have a guest write a product review or share their experience at an event. This time around, we are treated to Eric M’s fun description of the unPAved gravel race:
Commonly referred to by it’s shorter alias, the unPAved is indeed “Hard on the Legs, Easy on the Eyes,” a sentiment as accurately descriptive as its name. In only its second year, the unPAved has become an event that has riders asking when registration opens for next year as they wander around the finishers area in a haze of dust and happiness. The unPAved mastermind, chief cook, and bottle washer, Dave Pryor, along with his main cohort Mike Kuhn and a legion of amazing volunteers, friends, and mischief makers have produced a top tier event that drew nearly 1,000 registrants from 3 dozen states. This year’s event spanned the entire Columbus Day weekend with social rides, the Lewisburg Fall Festival, and even a Wooly Worm petting zoo. The Susquehanna River Valley should be near the top of everyone’s list as a destination for fun in the great outdoors.
A few notes on the 90 mile distance Plenty unPAved–
Last year I opted for the 50 mile category, now called the Proper, and vowed with a fellow cyclist that we would return for the 90 mile version thinking more climbing and descending hills, gravel and dirt roads, and chowing down on the highly sought after finishers whoopie pie was a great way to celebrate this cycling pursuit called gravel grinding. The Plenty unPAved category was all we hoped for and so much more. Dave Pryor, event brain-child, and his band of cohorts designed a course that rewarded all riders who toed the start line at 8:00AM on a foggy and chilly Sunday morning. Riders started the adventure along the Buffalo Valley Rail Trail for a few miles to get the blood to extremities and conduct some idle chat.
An early morning start in this area of Pennsylvania rewards the visitor with the sights and sounds of the local faithful clip-clopping their way to Sunday observances. All riders gave a wide berth to the trotting horses and no pictures were taken; we were all focused on our respective tasks at hand. For the riders, the first test begins about 14 miles in with the significant climb up Jones Mountain, a combination that proves to be steep with some elevation sections measured greater than 12%. This was an unrelenting climb and longer than I remembered from last year. Most riders take the time to regroup and refuel at the summit before beginning the downhill section followed by minor rollers that lead to “The Ranch.” This first aid station located at mile 27 was a true party atmosphere where riders were greeted by cowbell ringing volunteers in all manner of hoedown garb including inflatable horse and ostrich costumes. Somehow I missed the espresso guy but not the vast array of snacks, hydration offerings, a perfectly overcooked-to-order hot dog, and a bio-break. The next 18 miles was a grinning descent through the Bald Eagle State Forest. Eighteen miles of blue skies and a full palette of autumn colors greeted the riders as we headed past a couple of small hamlets towards the base of the second of the day’s four signature climbs.
Siglerville Millheim Pikeounds innocent enough when the sun is shining and the thought of the second aid station called the GU Energy Oasis is just a 10 mile click away. Well, easier said than done, but do it we did, and what lay waiting for us at Poe Paddy State Park was perhaps the best rest stop I’ve ever encountered. Drop Bags were neatly set out in rows for riders to pillage through their belongings, or leave items behind to then be delivered at the finish. I propped my bike, a Lynskey GR250 with a newly installed Lauf Grit SL fork, against a handsome hemlock and took my water bottles for a stroll to get refilled. What I encountered changed my whole perception on mid-ride food possibilities. There in the middle of the forest was gentleman decked in overalls creating culinary wonders from a cauldron and a skillet. Most people know him as Evan from Nittany Mountain Works fame, a local company making some seriously great bags for your cycling life. I called him a magician, for how else did he know at that moment that I would most definitely be resuscitated by perogies, bacon, fried potato wedges, and fresh pour-over coffee? I was so distracted by a second and third perogy that I nearly forgot to refill my water bottles. On the way back to my bike, after some sincere high-fives to Evan, I spotted the bottle of TUMS. Who else but a magician would think to have TUMS on hand?
Having checked off a few boxes at the aid station it was time to saddle up and ride on, so off we went to face the second half of the day with two climbs yet to go. The event’s elevation profile depicts Cherry Run Road as a pyramid followed immediately by “the molar” which starts with Sheesley Run Road and incorporates a few more smaller undulating roads before a swift downhill on Old Shingle Road for a final test of wits and braking acumen.
For the riders on the 90 and 120 mile courses there was a chance to have a brief respite from the bike saddle in the form of the now infamous Salsa Cycles Chaise from their #chasethechaise campaign which began at the Dirty Kanza event years ago. It was nice to take a quick sit on something soft (finally), smile for the camera, remount the bike, and head down the mountain towards the Buffalo Valley Rail Trail.
There was a final pitstop available and I’m still stumped why I did not stop at the Rusty Rail Brewing Company aid station in Mifflinburg, where tasty beverages, snacks, laughs, and restrooms were on offer before the last 9 miles leading to the Miller Center for Recreation & Fitness where we all began our respective rides.
As I write this, I’m watching news clips of that unforgettable day in our country’s history. I, like many was present on 9/11 to witness the horror that was unleashed on us by the lowest form of scum this world has to offer. They’re not humans, they’re scum! Humans would not cause so much pain to so many innocent people. That’s all I have to say about that.
In 2002, my brother Michael, our friend Mike and I, founded the Tour de Force, a 4 day bicycle ride that originally raised money for the families of the Police Officers killed on 9/11. In 2003, we shifted focus to raise money for the families of Police Officers killed in the line of duty, nationwide.
Since 2006, I have lived in my adopted home of Milford. I’ve pedaled all over this beautiful region and written about the many adventures the Delaware Valley, Tri-State area and the Poconos have to offer. But each September, I give you my experience at the Tour de Force. These days, with over 300 riders and 40 support staff, logistics dictate that I see the Tour from a car.
We ride from New York City to Washington, DC, Washington, DC to NYC, NYC to Boston and Boston to NYC. This year, we rode from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx to Fenway Park in Boston. Each rider received a ticket to the Yankee, Red Sox game played only a few hours after we finished.
Since then, we’ve added two more Board members, Jim and John, to help with logistics. The board may do all the work leading up to the ride and handle the day to day tasks involved in making this ride glide along like a well oiled machine, but it’s the riders and support team that really shine. Each rider and support team member have fund raising goals that enable them to participate. Most raise a lot more than their share.
This year, we had 76 people who have completed the TDF a total of 10 times. More than half our riders and support staff have been with the TDF for more than 5 years. 2019 was our 18th annual ride. We have teams from all over the country, that show up with trailers, stocked with food and drink to share with the masses. At night, most riders and support staff mingle in hotel parking lots in what can only be explained as the best feel good after ride party you can imagine!
All year long, TDF members support each other in every way you can think of. This has become a wonderful family and once you’ve been a part of the ride, your family. Through this endeavor, we’ve supported numerous other charities.
Each rider gets 4 nights in premium hotels, breakfast and lunch each day as well as a banquet on the 3rd night, a TDF Jersey, water bottle and lots of other swag.
Members help the board . Families from all over the United States and Puerto Rico receive donations. When a member lives close to a family receiving a donation, they personaly deliver the check.
I want to thank all the support team, riders and my fellow board members for allowing me to be a part of this for all these years. You are the Tour de Force. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this incredible cause.
You can Check us out at http://www.tourdeforceny.com. On Facebook: Tour de Force 9/11 Memorial Ride – where you can check out these and the thousands of other photos taken by Diane and Tom.
It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been dealing with a curve ball that life from time to time can throw at you.
That being said, I did spend some time off the bike. This has been time spent with family and friends and it’s also been time spent overthinking things. I could go into this in greater detail, but this is a cycling blog and I miss taking long adventurous rides and capturing cool pics of bikes in nature.
This past week, I threw caution to the wind and hopped on my gravel rig for a spin through the woods. Pedaling from the house, I figured the Delaware State Forest would do. And, oh, it did nicely. I hit some old haunts and found some new corners of this incredible natural wonderland.
The next day, I did a relaxing paddle around the local pond. Felt good to be out in the sun. The paddleboard is great cross training for cycling. Give it a try, your core will thank you!
I took a couple days off and yesterday, I decided a road ride was in order. I left Milford at 4:30pm and flew down Rt. 209 to Mountain Ave. in Matamoras. Crossing the Delaware (George Washington, I’m not), I cruised through the West End neighborhood of Port Jervis and up to Rt. 97. I wanted to do go uphill a bit, so I climbed up Skyline Drive to Point Peter. I’m not sure what I like more, the climb or the furious descent.
Back on Rt. 97, I navigated Port Jervis and passed into Montague, NJ, making a right on Clove Road. Passing some cool farms, I hammered the roller coaster like pavement, all the way to the Milford Bridge.
After riding back to Milford, I wanted to climb some more, so I hit the other Skyline Drive. From Old Milford Road, this alpine like skyway, puts you up above the trees for a beautiful view of the entire valley. It’s good to be back!!
What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around my head while riding), today – Train – Drops of Jupiter
June is what I like to call the start of adventure season! The temperatures really start to warm up and being as far from civilization as your circumstances will allow, makes you feel invigorated when you get back to the daily grind. With the threat of thunderstorms, it was not looking good for a Friday night bikepacking adventure. But, once the bike is packed, you go and hope for the best.
Steve and Rob G. joined me for the overnight excursion through the Delaware State Forest. Fortunately, the storms held out and after a few hours of humidity, the tempature dropped into the 60’s, making for a really comfortable evening.
We started out at the Rt. 739 parking area for Five Mile Meadow Road. Rob’s bike was a sight. Loaded with every item you could imagine. He certainly carried what Steve and I forgot. We climbed for a couple of miles and decided to turn right on Standing Stone Trail. Standing Stone gives you a little respite after the climbing endured by Rob on his 75lb plus bike.
After 3 miles Of a slight descent, we turned left on Silver Lake Road for a 1.5 mile climb then right onto the Burnt Mills Trail System for a few miles. We veered over to Flat Ridge Road for 3 miles, then jumped back on Burnt Mills to connect up to the northwestern side of the forest. The double track trail is made up of a loose gravel surface with sections of 3 to 4 inch rip rap. The first half is downhill to the wooden bridge, then up hill to the parking lot on Rt. 402.
The paved descent, brought us to Pine Flats Road, a pot holed, gravel roller coaster, that drops you sharply to a beautiful creek.
Steve wasted no time removing shoes and socks and hopped into the water. From there, we pedaled a few easy miles to our reserved camp site. The Forest Service simply requires a phone call to the local forestry office to reserve one of 39 camp sites spread throughout the forest.
After setting up camp, we opened a few well deserved beers and made dinner. Bikes, beer, fire and food, only the essentials. The Forest Service provides pic nic tables and fire rings at each site making it an easy destination.
The crackling of a camp fire, taste of dehydrated food, smell of tent material and symphony of crickets, let you really get the outdoor experience. This may sound a bit off, but if you’ve gotten out there, you know what I mean.
We slept in before stoking the fire, making coffee and cooking breakfast. I chose a Bannana, Raisin, Oats and Quinoa cereal. Rob actually made pancakes for him and Steve. So, we were well fed before getting back in the saddle.
We decided to take a slightly shorter route back, eliminating the Burnt Mills Trails, taking out a little bit of the rough stuff. The trip back to cars, gave me time to think: what is a S24O. Well a Sub 24 hour overnighter is the best way you can get into bikepacking or the outdoors, with little time commitment. It’s a great way to shake out those bugs if your planning a longer trip or simply to try out new gear. Here’s a few more pics:
As with the meeting, the S24O Bikepacking trip has been re-scheduled for Friday, June 28th due to the extreme weather conditions. If you wish to join in, call Action Bikes and Outdoor to allow us to get a head count.
Get out and get a rain ride in, have coffee in the woods or just do something outside!
I’ve often wondered what it would be like to ride to work on a regular basis. Besides forcing myself to pile up the miles, I would reduce my carbon footprint, save wear and tear on the car, increase my fitness and create awesome material for the blog.
Coincidentally, today is National a Bike to Work Day. Since mid April, I’ve either pedaled to work or home from work, 3 days a week. A lot of planning goes in to what would seem to be a mindless task.
Leaving a good supply of clothes and food at the shop is paramount. Keeping riding gear and a bike on hand leaves no excuses. Charging tail light and head light keeps me visible and illuminates the way. Riding home (leaving my car at work) ensures that I ride back in the morning.
Riding home requires a bit more energy as the climb out of the Delaware Valley is about 3,000 feet, with most of it coming immediately as you leave Milford on Rt. 6. A Pennsylvania state bicycle route, Rt. 6 has a six foot shoulder and extra wide driving lanes, so sharing the road with cars is easy. Rt. 434 is a bit hilly as well. Rt. 739 offers a flatter stretch, perfect for cooling down the legs as I make my approach homeward.
Riding from home to work is obviously a little faster. I can either take the reverse route (about 2,100 feet of climbing) or go the other way on Rt. 739 towards Dingmans and take Milford Road or Rt. 209 into town, resulting in a lot less uphill pedaling and fewer miles. I’m going to try to add another day next month and hopefully do a two week stint, where I commute solely by bike. Maybe no internet either. We’ll see….
What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – The Babys – Isn’t it Time
Once in a while, you just get out the door and ride. Saturday was shaping up to be the warmest day of the year. That said, Jeremiah and I made plans to do an early road ride.
We left from Action Bikes and Outdoor. It’s rare to go with short sleeves in April, but hey, if Mother Nature wants to throw a 75 degree day our way, we’ll take it! Warming up with an easy ride through town, we hopped across the Milford Bridge into New Jersey and climbed Deckertown Turnpike to Clove Road. As I’ve explained in previous posts, Clove Road, although void of any shoulder, is a fast, roller coaster ride all the way to Montague. We navigated through traffic and slipped into Port Jervis, NY and made a right on Neversink Drive for a gradual climb up to Rt. 209.
This section of Rt. 209 put us through Deer Park and Huegenot, NY, connecting us back to Port Jervis. We pedaled around the small city to Rt. 97, climbed the initial hill and descended all the way to Sparrowbush. From here, we used the West End neighborhood, riding along the Delaware River over to the Mid Delaware Bridge and crossed into Matamoras, PA.
Not wanting to deal with traffic, we hugged the other side of the river and made a left on Mountain Avenue for a quiet ride around Matamoras and into Westfall Township. Rt. 209/6, with it’s wide shoulder, provides and busy but fast commute back to Milford. It’s always nice to get a quick ride in. Although I love pedaling slow and taking plenty of photos, every now and then, changing the pace spices things up a bit.
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – The Knack – My Sharona
It’s been a little over a month since my last post. It seems a bit longer. Maybe it’s just that this winter has dragged on. You often hear of people who suffer from the winter doldrums. While I understand, I’ve never experienced it. I do have someone dear to me that can’t bear the thought of winter’s cold days and isolation. Hopefully, that’s in the rear view.
Thursday and Friday presented us with two 60+ degree days. I certainly took advantage. While I really yearn to get out on gravel roads, almost all of the Delaware State Forest and McDade Trail are still solidly iced over. That left me to put down some miles on the pavement.
On Thursday, I rode out of Action Bikes and Outdoor, through town and glided over the Milford Bridge to Montague, NJ. I climbed up Rt. 206 to Layton Hainseville Road. From there, I climbed up The backside of Jager Hill and dumped down to Old Mine Road for a quiet cruise through the rural cemeteries and river front farmland. Crossing over Old Dingman Turnpike, my legs screamed as I ventured up the steepest section of road I would hit all day (not that steep, but it’s early in the year). I descended into Peter’s Valley and hung a sharp left on Bevans Road.
Pedaling through Layton, I veered left back onto Layton Hainseville Road. I took a short break at one of the local farms and headed back across Rt. 206 and onto Cemetary Road. Cemetary turns into New Road about halfway to Deckertown Turnpike. I crossed over and enjoyed a slightly down hill grade mixed with a short climb before hitting Clove Road. Looping back to Rt. 206, I dropped down to the bridge and slipped into town.
Friday was a little warmer. At least 70 degrees by midday. Not having as big a window to get outside, I dropped down my driveway and out of my community for a totally uncharted ride through Lord’s Valley, Shohola and Greeley. I couldn’t help but noticing a few Robins flying and gathering twigs. A sure sign of spring. Sometimes a completely adventitious ride turns out to brighten your day and enforce the rights of spring.
What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding). Today – Three Dog Night – Shambala
The last few days have been like summer, compared to the week-long sub zero temperatures that according to the weather service, was caused by a hole in the polar vortex, freezing the entire midwest and northeast. The cold and my head cold have kept me off the bike for about a week. I did get out today. Although, I missed the last two 60 degree days, it still felt pretty warm at 35.
I’ve been waiting to get an opportunity the test out my new road bike. Because the frame is used, I won’t do a complete review, but here are a few specs: 2012 Kona Honky Tonk steel frame and fork. I built it up with SRAM Red shifters, SRAM Force derailleurs and crankset. Velo Orange seatpost, stem, handlebar, brakes and headset. I’m using an old set of Bontrager Race wheels for now, I’ll upgrade before summer.
As you know, I love steel bikes and this one did not disappoint. Anyway, I left Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of Milford at 11am and pedaled down Rt. 209 to Matamoras and turned left on Mountain Avenue. A short ride along the Delaware River and I eased over the Port Jervis Bridge, ripped through the West End neighborhood and onto Rt. 97. From there, it was a short ride to Skyline Drive.
Skyline Drive immediately jets upward. The road surface was covered in salt and amazingly still some ice. Switchback after switchback, I pushed on until coming to a sudden stop at the top. A yellow gate, blocking the road to Point Peter was in place to prevent cars from driving on the unplowed roadway.
A quick descent dropped me back on Rt. 97. After navigating through Port Jervis, NY, I headed into Montague, NJ. and down Clove Road. Except for Skyline, most roads were clear of ice, snow and salt. I veered left onto New Road and out to Layton Hainsville Road. Riding out to Rt. 206, I dropped back down to the Milford Bridge and took a nice slow ride back into town.
Like all first rides, I noticed a few things that need to be adjusted or tweaked a little. Other than that, I’m excited to put a few thousand miles on this steed this year.
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today – Ringo Starr – It Don’t Come Easy
On Tuesday, I had a window to go out and get a few miles in. I really wanted to check out some new trails, just off Flat Ridge Road. Jamie, tipped me off last week and I’ve been eager to check them out.
The mid-teen tempts jumped to 25 degrees by noon, so I jumped in the car and parked At the end of Five Mile Meadow, just off Silver Lake. I planned on entering at the Flat Ridge Cabin, across from Little Mud Pond, so I climbed up the back end of Five Mile and hopped on Little Mud Pond Trail (another trail I’ve waited to ride). This is an old snow mobile trail with a 2-3” rip rap surface. The climb was moderate, but the descent to Silver Lake was fun.
I rode across to the Flat Ridge Cabin (one of hundreds of hunting cabins scattered throughout the Delaware State Forest). This is a great place to enter the trails, as this is one of the state owned cabins.
The narrow singletrack, wraps around for a little over a mile, before intersecting with the yellow trail. This trail, which is mostly singletrack, winds through the thick woods and ends at Coon Swamp Trail.
I headed down to Big Bear Swamp. On the way, I noticed an animal carcass. It appeared to be a deer. Who says bears are in hibernation. Coming to a narrow stretch of singletrack, I realized that I better head back. The sun was going down soon, and it’s too cold to get caught out this time of year.
What I did notice is that there are a few more trails off Coon Swamp that I will need to investigate. Can’t wait, this seems to be a nice area of the forest. Spinning around, I headed out to Flat Ridge, veered onto Silver Lake and took the Little Mud Pond Trail back to Five Mile.
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) – today -Men at Work – Be Good Johnny
The last few winters, I’ve been entrenched in a never-ending quest for the perfect winter jacket. Let me explain. I own a few winter riding jackets. All keep me warm or dry in a number of conditions. Yet, I still feel, each time out on a winter ride, I’m missing something. It could be 30 degrees and raining or 20 and snowing. I have jackets that are warm but not waterproof, winter shells that are windproof, but not very insulated and extremely warm jackets that just do not provide enough ventilation.
As I’ve said in the past, I don’t work for any of the companies I review. I do not get paid to review a product. I purchase each product for my personal use, wear it or ride it, enjoy it or not.
This year, I took a chance on Bontrager’s Old Man Winter Jacket. As you know, I tend to overdress when the temps get low. This leads to shedding layers midway down the trail. Fortunately the OMW provides plenty of ventilation, via two large zippered chest vents that are hydration pack compatible. I need to have a jacket that will keep me warm in a multitude of conditions. But the ability to fully ventilate, makes this jacket killer!
When your out on a ride and the skies open up, rain, snow and sleet tend to fall. Having a hood helps, but having a hood with a Boa Dial that cinches down around your helmet, makes a cold, wet ride seem like a cold, wet ride where you stay warm and dry.
Bontrager’s Profila softshell fabric, powered by 37.5 active particle technology provides what I believe is the warmest softshell on the market. There are warmer jackets, but at this weight, you’d be hard pressed to find something warmer. Storage is provided by two spacious zippered hand pockets and two zippered chest pockets. There are also two internal drop pockets. The semi fitted cut, with double cord adjustment at the waist, keeps water and other liquids from hitting your body. The radioactive orange color makes this jacket a bright choice for riding through hunting season or any season.
Bottom Line: Finally, I have a jacket that checks all the boxes. If you want a winter jacket, that’s light, warm, waterproof and well ventilated with a Boa Dial hood, this is definitely the jacket for you! Bontrager calls it a MTB jacket. I call it an anything jacket. Get it, you won’t be sorry!
I could give you a year in review. I thought about that. I could tell you about some fantastic rides, good times with friends and complain about all the rain. But, 2018 is in the rear view mirror and 2019 is upon us.
I met up with Eric today to get the year started on a high note. A gravel ride through the Delaware State Forest. We departed the Rt. 739 parking area around noon and immediately tackled the hills on Five Mile Meadow Road. At 43 degrees, the weather finally cooperated. After about 2 miles of climbing, we turned right on Standing Stone Trail.
A mile in and we had to dismount to jump across the creek crossing. It was a little too deep after yesterday’s monsoon, but we managed. The hard packed gravel that makes up the surface of Standing Stone, drains extremely well. We cruised through the deer management area to the gate at a nice clip. A left on Silver Lake Road put us on some pave until we turned right onto Flat Ridge Road. Mostly dirt, Flat Ridge was mushy for most of its 4 miles.
We rode up Bushkill Falls Road and eased into Minisink Lake and onto Whitaker Trail. Up and over the hills and around the switchback, we came to a swath of private property. There were more that a few “no trespassing” signs, but the newer looking gravel road was too inviting. This private country resort is tucked deep in the woods with a beautiful roadway complete with wooden bridges and a scenic pond. The road loops around the property and ends with a tour through the main house and smaller cabins.
On Whitaker, we pedaled back to Flat Ridge to push through the mud one more time before screaming down Silver Lake Road and onto Five Mile Meadow. We chose the long way back to toss in a few more hills. My legs did not thank me. They were a little rubbery after maybe indulging a little too much last night. As we capped the last of numerous climbs, we descended back to the parking area, with a really nice ride to start the new year. You get the longer rides in when you can, so this was a plus for January 1st. I hope it’s a sign of things to come for the winter, but I doubt it. Full winter gear and shorter rides are right around the corner.
What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today – Dave Davies – Susannah’s Still Alive
Although winter does not officially begin for another week, Mother Nature gave us a sample of the upcoming season.Today, 25 degrees with a light covering of snow. Perfect for a little adventuring!
I met up with Eric this morning at the foot of Dingmans Falls for a scramble through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. We hopped on the McDade Trail and pedaled past the general store to Hornbeck’s Creek. We took Rt. 209 back to Chestnut Ridge Road.
I’ve never had the pleasure to ride here before. Chestnut Ridge is a one lane, gravel road that jets upward for a little over a mile and a half. It might be one of the quietest, most serene roads in the area.
About half way up, Eric noticed a small house about 100 feet back in the woods. We headed up the driveway to investigate. The house was a bit neglected, but the property, which looked way down to Hornbeck’s Creek, was quite beautiful.
We continued the climb and turned right on Wilson Hill Road. A left on Mary Stuart, put us on a quiet country road with a tar and chip surface. We took a chance and dropped down Johnny Bee Road. This old blacktop Road that is grass and rock covered, is an adventure all by it’s self. The road is closed about halfway down.
Beyond the gate, the road turns to trail. The storms from last March, left Johnny Bee littered with large oak trees spilled alongside and across the Path. After hike a biking over some of the larger ones, we made our way down to Dingmans Falls Road.
We pedaled up to the Falls, which only opened about a month ago (they too were decimated by trees last March). The newly constructed boardwalk served as a pretty capable path. Surprisingly, the snow helped create some traction. After a few photos, we turned around and rode back to the cars.
What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today – Bryan Adams – Cuts Like a Knife
Thursday evening blessed us with the first snowfall of the winter season or should I say fall season. With about 5 weeks to go, before winter officially starts, we were blanketed with anywhere from 8-12 inches of wet snow.
On Friday, I attempted to take the Cannondale Beast of the East into the Delaware State Forest. It did not go well. I spent more time on my feet than on my bike. The snow was extremely sticky, the hard packing type of snow that gets stuck and caught in every part of a bike.
Entering Five Mile Meadow Road from the deer trail connecting my community with the forest, I pedaled in quad tracks to Ben Bush Road. That was about as fas I could get. The quad tracks went off the road and into the woods. I decided to head back, as forward progress was completely stalled.
Walking back up Five Mile, I realized that snow shoes would have been more appropriate. Anyway, the shadows from the trees, the quiet and deer running through the snow really changed my outlook on the day. I was able to get a good upper body workout in, shoveling the driveway, when I got home.
What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today – Blood Sweat and Tears – Hi-De-Ho
On Sunday, a group of about 20 riders, met at Action Bikes and Outdoor to embark on the first of many casual rides through this beautiful town.
At 10am, it was brisk, but sunny. Perfect weather for a town ride. I wanted to plan a route that followed through the many alley ways, from which Milford, looks a bit like a small European village. It really brings you back a few years.
The crunch of leaves as we rolled through the lower part of town coupled by the incredible fall colors, added to the charm, as we stopped to gaze at the Delaware River from the overlook at the end of High Street. Crossing Harford Street, we slipped back to Water Street and after briefly checking out the water fall, we pedaled past the Waterwheel, across Milford Road and onto James Street. From there we turned into Pine Alley and again on Owega Road.
Entering Grey Towers. The group gracefully climbed the hill through the beautifully landscaped property to the former home of Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. At the top, we stopped for a photo op.
Cindy told the story of the Pinchot family and the significance of the home and property. We then cruised up through the parking area and started the long descent out of Grey Towers, onto Owega Road and back into town.
This time, we rode in the upper alley ways heading east and eventually snaking down Cherry Alley alongside the Columns Museum to Broad Street, in front of the bike shop. Inside TC and Jeremiah had hot apple cider waiting for us.
This is definitely the type of riding I enjoy the most. A group of people casually pedaling, chatting and enjoying the scenery. Can’t wait for the next one! I’m taking suggestions for December’s cruise. Here’s a few more pics.
On Sunday, we are hosting a casual, fun, slow, group ride from Action Bikes and Outdoor. Pace will be slow, to take in all that Milford has to offer. We will cruise down the alley ways and see some cool stuff. Any bike will be perfect for this ride. No need to don the spandex. Street clothes will be the order of the day. Hope to see you there!
On November 11th at 10 a.m. we are hosting a casual bicycle ride around Milford PA. Our host, “Rob” will be taking all participants through the alleys of Milford, pointing out all points of interest and historic landmarks. Any bike is welcome and casual warm athletic clothing is recommended. You will view beautiful gardens, fall foliage, a waterfall, and Grey Towers during this relaxed bike ride. The total distance will be 9 miles and it will take approximately 2 hours with several stops. When you are finished, enjoy a warm complimentary cider back at Action Bikes and Outdoor. This is a free event!
On Wednesday, I had a few hours to kill and thought a gravel ride through the woods, would be a great way to spend part of All Hallows’ Day. To try something different, I opted for a spin through the Port Jervis Watershed.
Starting from parking lot 2, at the power lines, I headed down Skyline Drive to the campground (an old Girl Scout camp). From there, I sampled a little of Scouts Honor, some flowy singletrack, for a half mile and returned to the campground. I wound my way up to Point Peter, and back around to the gate and down Skyline Path, a beat up old road with more dirt and gravel than what’s left of decades old pavement.
At the bottom of Skyline Drive, I made a left on Reservior Road and cruised over to the bottom of Deejay Downs. On the way back, I climbed Resevior Road to Box Baum Rd. The gravel is very loose on this road, making it difficult to gain any momentum on the way up.
At the top, I took Box Baum to Academy Avenue and button hooked my way over to Peenpack Trail. Turning around again, I found my way onto Moranigan Trail, more singletrack with and few more rocks and roots, but very rideable. A right on Brant Path, an old Jeep trail, led me back to Box Baum and subsequently, back down Resevior Road. After climbing Skyline Path, I finished up by cruising down Skyline Drive to the parking lot.
I see the potential to develop a good mixed ride of gravel, Jeep trail and singletrack. Can’t wait to put it all together.
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – Hall and Oates – She’s Gone
About 6 years ago, I decided that a cyclocross bike was my alternative fall rig. Not to race, but to get off the beaten path. I know, I sound like every bicycle company’s mantra for their new gravel, all road or adventure bike. Every one of them will have you believe they invented this gravel bike or this incredible genre of riding. Truth is, people have been riding gravel and dirt roads as long as people have been riding bicycles.
Since then, I can’t seem to get enough gravel. As a matter of fact, I can’t seem to get enough of the Delaware State Forest. So much so, you must be sick of reading my posts that include this swath of woods. Anyway, I’m sorry, but today, I rode with Joe and Jason and found an entirely new trail that is as amazing as every road, ATV or snowmobile trail in the forest.
We started at my abode and pedaled about a mile, before entering a deer trail that led us to Five Mile Meadow Road. Heading towards Silver Lake, we made a right on Ben Bush Trail and followed it to Standing Stone Trail. Cruising through the deer management area, we turned left on Silver Lake Road and decided to take the Burnt Mills Trail for about 3 miles and connected it with Flat Ridge Road.
Just as Flat Ridge comes to an end, we moved back over to the Burnt Mills Trail to ride through the section that includes a lot of loose gravel and large pieces of rip rap. This ends in a huge gravel parking lot along Rt. 402. From there, we usually ride on 402 to Pine Flats Road. Today, we hung a left onto the Pine Flats Trail. The first quarter mile was being logged. The rest was like gliding over some kind of magical forest. Lush grass on top of a hard packed surface made for a really cool roller coaster ride that eventually came out at the bottom of Pine Flats Road.
As it was 35-40 degrees most of the day, we decided to head back via Bushkill Falls Road to Flat Ridge Road and took Five Mile Meadow all the way to my community.
It always seems a little difficult when you encounter the first really cold ride of the new season. But, it gets easier each time you go out.
What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – anything Marvin Gaye.
It’s that time of year again. Autumn brings beautiful colors to almost every region in the northeast. That’s why pictures in nature are so popular during fall foliage. Instagram, Facebook and other types of social media are a great source for sharing photos. I love seeing any nature shots, especially when a bicycle, the most simplistic mode of transportation, is featured.
Cycling is a beautiful sport, we record our rides with Strava, Map My Ride and Ride with GPS. Most entries include a picture. A picture, because average speed, heart rate and elevation gain do not say enough about the ride and less about the experience.
So, I want your photos. Send me a pic of your bike in nature, by Friday, November 16th at 5pm, for a chance to win a pair of Tifosi Tyrant 2.0/Carbon/Polarized Fototec sunglasses. Send photos to email@example.com.
On Saturday, Jason and I decided a full assault on the McDade Trail was in order. I’ve never before, ridden from one end to the other, without deviating from the trail, to avoid the steps and technical section between Milford and Dingmans.
At 55 degrees and sunny, the weather certainly cooperated. We began at the Hialeah Recreation Site, with the intention to ride all 32 miles to Milford Beach, turn around and ride back, without leaving the trail. At 9am, we departed, hitting all the hills south of Bushkill.
10 miles in and we pedaled through the Bushkill Access. From there, the trail is flat and fast for 13 miles to Dingmans. Crossing Rt. 739, we hammered the short, steep gravel hills leading up to the Bald Eagle Nesting area, where the singletrack and hiking only sections begin. We were able to ride most of the singletrack, but had to hike a bike the staircases.
The river, currently higher and wider than normal, was moving pretty quickly, creating a gorgeous green pool, just off the trail.
We cruised past Raymondskill Road, through the corn fields, under the bridge and landed at Milford Beach. Time constraints and sore legs, sent us back via the pavement. We crossed the bridge and took Old Mine Road to the Dingmans Bridge, shuffled across and landed on Rt. 209 for 12 miles. In Bushkill, we hopped back on the trail, just in time to climb every hill and roll into Hialeah at about 4pm.
I cant wait to make this trip again. Hitting all sections in one ride, we got to experience all the beauty that McDade has to offer.
What’s playing (what am I listening while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today – The Alan Parsons Project – Eye in the Sky
The previous 3 years, I traveled up to Honesdale, PA for the Maple City Century, an off road/gravel/adventure ride. This year, I was joined by Eric, Darrin, Joe and Andrew. If you haven’t heard about this incredible event or read one of my previous reviews, by the end of this post, you’ll be eager to take on the back roads of Wayne County, PA.
Honesdale is the Maple City. However, this year’s start and finish, took place just outside of Honesdale at the Bluestone Bar and Grill on Rt. 191. With a plus size parking lot and clean bathrooms, the Bluestone was a perfect host. This year’s edition, offered a 62 mile(metric century) and the full 100 mile “shabang”. Doing the 100 the previous 3 years and finishing the last 2, we geared up for the metric and were not let down.
First, it was 46 degrees at the start. Last year, 90 degrees and humid, made for a long day. This year, real autumn temperatures prevailed as it really made a difference.
This is the one event I do each year that is completely grass roots. Zach and Stacey Wentzel are the faces at the sign in, they are there to give pre-ride instructions, they are all over the course, they are there at the finish and at the post ride party. Stacey even baked the incredible oatmeal raisin cookies found at the rest stops. Sure, other rides are bigger, but this is the what you’ve been waiting for.
As far as the ride goes, if you want dirt, gravel, long climbs and the most beautiful scenery Northeastern Pennsylvania has to offer, then this is definitely the ride you’ve been waiting for. Loads of farms, stream crossings, waterfalls and even some singletrack is thrown in for good measure. And did I mention the hills? Yes, your climbing needs will be met!
The rest stops, as always we’re stocked with water, drink mix, cookies, trail mix, gels, fruit and sandwiches. The volunteers are second to none. They do not just serve you, they evaluate you as they are checking you in to see how your doing.
Starting at the Bluestone really made for a nice loop as riders were able to get right onto the back roads. I’ll say this, when you think it’s over, remember, there’s at least a few more climbs.
Next September, alert your friends and come up to Honesdale and experience the ride you’ll never forget!
Dehydration is a deficit of total body water. It occurs when water loss exceeds water intake. It’s usually caused by exercise, illness, or immursion diuresis. For this post, we will concentrate on exercise and dehydration from sweating.
Whenever your in a hot or humid climate and participating in exercise, dehydration is lurking just around the corner. Beware: losing 2% of your weight in fluid equates to a 25% loss in performance. And performance is only important when your health is not at risk.
So, if your busy and forget to drink or just don’t feel thirsty during a long ride or run, you will not be able to replace the water you lose due to excessive sweating and heavy breathing. When your dehydrated, you may feel dizzy or disoriented. You may have muscle cramps or headaches. You could also experience rapid breathing, rapid heartbeat, confusion, irritability, dark yellow urine, dry skin or fainting.
What you need to do: First, drink a lot of water, every day! Then, drink 12 ounces of water 1 hour before exercise and 8 ounces, 15 minutes before exercise. During your ride, run, hike, paddle or whatever gets your heart rate up, drink 1 bottle (about 20-24 ounces) for every hour of effort. In humid conditions, drink 1 & 1/2 bottles an hour. Add sports drink mix to every other bottle for efforts over an hour long.
What makes me such an expert. Experience. I’ve ended up getting carted to a hospital on 3 separate occasions in the last 14 years, due to severe dehydration. Each time, during humid weather, I simply did not drink enough before or during exercise. I felt weak and tried to push on. All big mistakes. The first two times, it took me a couple of weeks to recover. It happened again last weekend, Not because it was hot or humid, but because I did not drink enough and did not listen to my body. So drink, drink drink!
Eighteen months ago, I reviewed the Van Dessel WTF. In that post, I told you everything that this exceptional bike is capable of. Well I also explained how the bicycle industry continually evolves. End users and industry professionals provide valuable reviews to help consumers make smart choices.
This year, I purchased a Van Dessel WTF 853Ltd. I wanted to put a considerable amount of mileage on this machine before giving you an educated opinion. So, after around 400 miles, my mouth is watering.
First, there’s a noticeable difference. The 853Ltd loses the double top tube. I’m sure this, along with the Reynolds 853 tubing and full carbon fork, are what contribute to a 5 pound drop in weight.
Taken from Van Dessel’s website: seamless air hardened heat-treated Reynolds 853 tube set provides more responsive handling and livelier acceleration without losing the charms that make the standard Whiskey Tango Foxtrot so beloved. It’s belt drive, single speed and IG hub compatible, accepts a Pressfit 30 bottom bracket and handles 29 X 2.25 tires.
Seriously, I love my WTF. It’s a beast. I rode gravel, snow and winter pavement in comfort and style. The 853Ltd is all that and more. It accelerates like no other gravel/adventure bike I’ve ridden. It climbs well and handles the rough stuff with ease. My bike has seen only gravel and hard packed dirt roads so far with the occasional bit of singletrack.
The 853Ltd is available as a frameset, with frame, fork, headset and seat clamp for $1,499. They offer 6 complete builds in either Shimano or SRAM with 1X and 2X drivetrains. The raw steel and pearlized orange are breathtaking!
Now, I opted for a complete build, with SRAM Force shifters, derailleurs, carbon crankset and flat mount hydraulic disc brakes. I switched out the perfectly capable Mavic Aksium disc wheelset for a set of Bontrager Paradigm Elite disc wheels with WTB Nana 40 tires setup tubeless and the 1130 cassette for a 1150 (with HD hub). I added a Salsa Woodchipper bar and a Thomson seatpost and stem.
Van Dessel, based in northern New Jersey has been crafting cyclocross, road, mtb and adventure bikes for many years. With the 853Ltd, the Country Bob and the A.D.D., they are sure to have the right bike for any of your adventures.
Cycling Pike County can open many doors, create new experiences and set the table for a fitness lifestyle. Over the past century, bicycles have been used by children and adults as transportation, leisure and fitness. These days, riding a bicycle can take on many different forms. There is mountain biking, road racing, gravel riding, touring, bikepacking, BMX, cafe riding, commuting and just about anything you can imagine.
Let’s start with one of the most family friendly places to ride, the McDade Trail. Starting at the Milford Beach Trailhead in Milford, this multi use trail stretches 32 miles to Hialeah Trailhead in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The trail surface is crushed stone and remains primarily flat for the first 21 miles, with a few small hills sprinkled in. After The Bushkill Boat Access, the trail climbs sharply into a few switchbacks before rolling on to Hialeah. During the summer months, the Pocono Pony, a free bus service, is available with bike racks going north and south at 7 locations along the trail. At many points, the trail runs along the Delaware River, traversing farms, pine forests, camp grounds and boat launches. Spotting a Bald Eagle, a Black Bear, White Tailed Deer and Wild Turkey is not uncommon.
For mountain bikers that love being on singletrack, Promised Land State Park has numerous multi use trails that range from beginner to expert with varying terrain. Just to the north of Pike County lies the Port Jervis, NY Watershed Trails. These multi use trails offer some of the best mountain biking in the northeast.
Rt. 6 is on the Pennsylvania State bicycle route. With it’s wide shoulders, Rt. 6 offers road cyclists the opportunity to ride safely into and out of the wind. Winding through the Delaware State Forest and past Lake Wallenpaupack, Rt. 6 links with many bicycle friendly roadways, creating hundreds of different routes both epic and casual. You can even connect routes through neighboring New Jersey and New York for a tri state tour of the Delaware Valley.
Next, the Delaware State Forest is filled with emergency access roads and snowmobile trails that allow a mountain bike or a “gravel bike” to glide over the gravel surface through protected natural areas and past glacial lakes. All sorts of wildlife and plants can be spotted in this scenic forest of more than 83 Acres. The Delaware State Forest has 29 campsites complete with pic nic tables and fire rings, making bikepacking (camping from a bicycle) a modest adventure.
The 2016 Kona Rove TI More on that in another post
If you are not into pedaling deep in the woods, then Maybe a casual ride around Milford, the county seat, would satisfy your urge to spin the pedals. The Borough of Milford is laid out with a grid of streets and alley ways that make riding in town a breeze. There are many cafes, eateries and historic place to visit by bicycle. From town, you could ride up to Grey Towers, the home of Gifford Pinchot, the first Director of the US Forest Service or pedal over to the columns museum for a look at the history of Pike County. Pedal over to Rt. 209 and hike up to the “Knob” for a wonderful view of Milford. Cruise down to Milford Beach for a dip in the Delaware River.
Wherever you bike, Pike County has trails and roads that make for a safe, enjoyable sport. Get outside and ride. You can see more from a bicycle that you can from a car and riding a bike is a healthy activity and a great release from everyday life. Hope to see you out there!
On Saturday, Steve, Jason, Darrin and I, ventured out on a bikepacking trip. June 23rd was the worldwide solstice bikepacking event and what better place to camp then the Delaware State Forest.
We met up at the Rt. 739 parking area at 5pm and pedaled up Five Mile Meadow Road. A right on Ben Bush Trail to Standing Stone Trail brought us through the logging area and over to Silver Lake Road. A short climb and we hammered the 4 miles down Flat Ridge Road.
We hooked up on the Burnt Mills snowmobile trail system over to Rt. 402 and dropped down to Pine Flats Road. About 2 miles in, there is a water source. This is convenient, because we were camping only about 2 miles further. We filled our bottles and headed to our campsite.
I reserved the campsite from the PA DCNR. The Delaware State Forest has 29 designated campsites. Ours was perfect. With a stream running nearby, the campsite sat just off the gravel road.
After setting up sleeping quarters and making a fire, it was time to prepare dinner. I opted for a quick dehydrated meal of Louisiana Red Beans and Rice, cooked expertly on a Jetboil stove.
We relaxed with a few beers and enjoyed the incredible night afforded us by Mother Nature. The forecast called for a humid day followed by thunderstorms. What we got was a nice breezy day with perhaps a slight drizzle. Perfect weather for a loaded S24hour adventure.
The next morning brought more beautiful weather. After breakfast, we packed up and retraced our route back to Silver Lake Road, where we turned right to take Five Mile Meadow all the way back.
Sub 24hour adventures get you out in the woods without a big commitment. Give it try. Until then, check out more pics of our adventure.
It looks like summer is here. You could not ask for better weather. Well, yesterday presented itself with a chance to take a cruise through some of western Orange Counties most beautiful roads.
Bill mapped out a hilly course, as Eric and I sat on for what turned out to be a treat. We departed the shop at 7:30am and headed across the Milford bridge and into NJ. We stopped to chat with a gentleman that was pedaling his penny farthing from Maine to Key West. Slipping down River Road into Port Jervis, NY, we crossed to Neversink Drive. Neversink climbs to Rt. 209. Making a right, we rode 3/4 of a mile and turned left on Peenpack Trail. This is where the real climbing started.
Peenpack starts out at about 1% for a couple of miles then gradually gets steeper. Winding up and up, we capped the hill just as it dumped sharply for a fun descent to Rt. 42.
We hung a left and cruised downhill, making a right on Wilson Road. The grade went skyward immediately as the road twisted through old world farm land, revealing views that were second to none. This time the road dumped down to Rt. 97, where a left hand turn took us to the base of the Hawk’s Nest. This incredible portion of roadway provides views of the Delaware River from high above as well as greenery as far as the eye can see.
After a rip through the West End of Port Jervis, over the bridge and around Mountain Road, we finished up with a strong head wind all the way up Rt. 209 to the shop.
After a short respite, Bill and I pedaled over to Skyline Drive for one more climb to cap the day. My legs were rubber at this point, so I slowly made my way up and around Milford Hills before descending back to town.
What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today – Billy Joel – Summer in Highland Falls
As spring comes to an end in a couple of weeks, we welcome summer with open arms. After riding through rain and cold for most of the spring, we were treated to a beautiful day.
To test the early season legs, I hooked up with Eric, Andrew, Joe and Dave for a 50 mile gravel ride through the Delaware State Forest. At 61 degrees, it was just warm enough for short sleeves.
We departed the Rt. 739 parking area and headed up Five Mile Meadow Road, over a recently resurfaced dirt and gravel roadway. After the Silver Lake climb, we dropped into Little Mud Pond and into the Burnt Mills snowmobile trails. We crossed over to Flat Ridge Road to Lake Minisink and back to Burnt Mills where we hit some rough Jeep Trail and rip rap.
We regrouped in the Burnt Mills parking area and crossed over Rt. 402 to Pine Flats Road for an easy 2.5 mile descent.
At the bottom, we hung a sharp right on Highline Road and began the 6 mile climb up to the base of the High Knob. Highline rolls gradually up to Hobaday Road, creating just enough fatigue to make you pull back a little before the big hill.
We regrouped again at the gate and started up the High Knob Road. For about 1.5 miles, the road circles around the hill as it get steeper and steeper as you get closer to the top. The views were spectacular today. With no fog and plenty of sunshine, you could see forever.
We had lunch, took a few photos and enjoyed the descent down High Knob and all the way down High Line to Pine Flats. It was just enough to recuperate before climbing back to Rt. 402. Through the rough section and up Flat Ridge to Silver Lake. We took Standing Stone Trail through the deer management area, back to Five Mile Meadow, over a few more hills and down to the parking lot.
This is one of my favorite rides. 50 Miles, 4000 feet of elevation, 95% on gravel. Joe and Dave are heading to Canada next week for a ride up the Novia Scotia coast. I hope we helped prepare them.
I leave you with a few more shots of this fantastic ride.
Is it ever going to stop raining? After a snowy, cold winter, the spring has been equally as wet. Weather reports are even calling for flooding this weekend. Well, today offered a short respite with lots of sunshine.
With the pavement still very wet, I opted for a tried and true gravel route, Heading out of Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of Milford. After slithering through town, I hopped over to Milford Beach and jumped on the McDade Trail. The first 4 miles are so nice. That being said, it looks as though the Park Service has done everything to keep bicycles from going any further than Just past Raymondskill Road. This forces you to walk up to Rt. 209 and ride a few miles before crossing back onto the trail.
I opted to turn onto Zimmerman Farm Road and ride the horseshoe back to Rt. 209 and go back into the 2nd section of the farm.
This time, I was met with a few obstacles. Trees were down everywhere. I crawled under and over the trees and made my way to the farm houses. An orange construction fence blocked the road. I rode around and up to the barn for a photo.
I never noticed a cool old gas pump at what must have been the garage.
I pedaled out to Rt. 209 for 2 miles and back on the McDade Trail. I rode up to Tom’s creek, turned around and headed back towards Milford. After another stint on Rt. 209, I jumped back on McDade and cruised back to Milford. I really wish that trail was accessible by bike the whole way through.
As I passed the icehouse, I turned on the gravel section that winds along the river to 3rd street and climbed back up into town.
What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today – The Doors – Roadhouse Blues
Went out today to workout some Kinks. Pedaled out to Lake Minisink via Five Mile Meadow Road, Little Mud Pond and Flat Ridge Road. Just wanted to jump in the hammock, without mosquito enclosure or rain fly.
Took a little nap, made some coffee and scouted out a new route around the lake. I’ll be venturing out on June 23rd to participate in the 2018 Swift Campout – Solstice Overnighter. You can check out the event at swiftcampout.com.
I’ll post details later in the month. Mostly just a sub 24 hour overnighter. Probably 25-30 mile ride, a little dinner and campfire. Tent, maybe hammock, then a nice breakfast followed by a return ride of 25-30 miles.
What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – Yes – I’ve seen all good people
This past weekend, Jason and I took the long drive up to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom to sample the Rasputitsa Gravel Road Race, a 40 mile trek over some of the toughest roads the Green Mountains have to offer. With over 4500 feet of elevation gain, the course challenges the most adventurous of riders.
The event was everything they said it would be and more. Themed after David Bowie’s “We Could Be Hero’s”, it was a world class cycling event, complete with top notch pre and post ride festivities, including a Bowie cover band that was spot on!
At 45 degrees and sunny, things seemed to be shaping up quite nicely. Starting at Burke Mountain in East Burke, the course dropped into town and after a couple of miles, made its way onto the hard-packed dirt roads. The first 10 miles seemed to pass by extremely quick. I was starting to think, all the talk about muddy roads and snow covered trails was all hype.
Then, came Cyberia (why it’s spelled this way, is another Rasputitsa mystery). As we were climbing up the mountain, a volunteer said there was a lot of snow on top. He wasn’t kidding. A half foot of snow turned the joy ride into a hike a bike. If you were able to ride through, you couldn’t, as riders hiked single file down the narrow trail for about 1.5 miles. As advertised, Rasputitsa (Russian for “the mud Season”, when roads become difficult to traverse) was starting to hurt. I don’t know who that young lady was that was giving free hugs at the end of Cyberia, but she certainly brought a smile to many tired souls.
As soon as we were out of Cyberia, the bottom fell out as riders shot down the mountain. Jason got away from me rather quickly. His mtb skills were on full display, as was the case for most of the day. Wherever you were on the course, mountains were visible, near and far. The next 25 miles, were more of the same: Beautiful scenery, monster climbs, amazing volunteers and fantastic rest stops. Some might say the maple shots were the best or the Rasputitsa bottles and Clif bars came at a much needed time or the craft beer was cool, but, what did it for me was the little girl that handed me a donut as I chugged up that monster hill past the last rest stop. It believe she knew I was struggling.
Coming down the back side, you could see the ski resort. All around me, grimaces turned to smiles, well for only a few minutes. That’s when we turned left into what seemed like another Cyberia. I couldn’t help but think, why would they do this to me as I kept falling while trying to ride through. Coming out of it, snow became blacktop. Blacktop became snow and the finish line was in sight.
What a great feeling as hundreds of finishers hung around to cheer on the riders coming in! We dropped our bikes at the car and joined in the celebration that is Rasputitsa. Tired and fulfilled, I will be back next year, I can’t wait!
Occasionally you just go out for a pedal. By that, I mean, you scrap all plans and just pedal. I planned to do a long ride with lots of hills as kind of a last ditch prep for the Rasputitsa Gravel Race on April 21st in Vermont.
By late afternoon, when it appeared that the forecast of a warm day was not going to happen, I decided to enjoy an easy jaunt through the High Knob section of the Delaware State Forest.
I met up with Mike at the Maple Run parking area on Rt. 402 and pedaled down Hobaday Road to Highline Road and past Pine Flats. We explored the Hay Road Extension (all gravel roads) until it abruptly came to an end at a gate with numerous no trespassing and keep out signs. That deep in the woods, that’s as far as I go.
We turned around and headed back. Before we made the turn on Rt. 402, we decided to climb to the top of the High Knob. The loose gravel and muddy surface ascends as it winds around a large rock formation, providing incredible views this time of year, from the top. An easy descent and smooth cruise to the parking lot, capped a really nice ride. Turned out to be just what I needed. When Mother Nature throws you lemons, make lemonade!
This may seem like an odd time to review a winter boot. It is, but after receiving them in February, I wanted to put in a fair amount of miles before deciding whether or not they become a staple in my winter riding gear.
I’ve been wanting to find a way out of shoe covers. So, I purchased a pair of 45NRTH Wolvhammer winter boots in February. 45NRTH rates these boots at 0-25 degrees Fahrenheit. I think that is a fair statement. Usually I wear two pairs of wool socks, my shoes, toe covers and thermal shoe covers. A lot of prep just to have numb toes that hurt badly after an hour plus in 10 degree weather.
With one pair of socks, I set out on a 14 degree day on a February morning, fully expecting my big toes to experience the same old story. To my surprise, my feet stayed nice and warm for the entire ride. Styled like a mountaineering boot, the Wolvhammer has a full grain leather and ballistic nylon shell that provides a barrier that keeps your feet feeling rather cozy. The waterproof membrane keeps your feet dry.
I’ve worn these boots on my mid fat mtb as well as my gravel bike. They’ve performed well in the really cold stuff, but when Mother Nature treats us to a warm winter day, go back to your shoes. I have to say that the only drawback is that at upwards of 25 degrees and it feels like your wearing an oven.
The soles are rugged and perfectly capable on those long winter hike a bike rides, snowshoeing or just a simple-stroll through the woods. Recessed cleat attachment is pretty much the norm for mtb shoes.
Putting them on and taking them off turned out to be a breeze. The laces pull tight with an internal cord lace that Velcro’s to the tongue. Then a heavy duty Velcro strap cinches the whole deal.
After 7 winter excursions, I can honestly say that the 45NRTH Wolvhammer boots will become part of my regular winter get up.
Weather patterns have shifted the last few years. What this means long term, I’m not sure. What I do know is that in the northeast, we are able to ride our bikes much later into the year. Our winters have spilled into March and April, bringing us some late snowstorms and chilly spring weather.
However, this holiday weekend, was warm and for the most part, sunny. With a series of weird snowstorms coming up this week, putting in some quality miles was high on my list of priorities.
Saturday was a group ride. I met up with Eric, Joe and Andrew at Action Bikes & Outdoor in Milford and set out on a mix of B roads, dirt roads and gravel. We slithered through Milford, dropped down past the Metz Icehouse, up to Rt. 209 and over the Milford Bridge. A bumpy ride down what Eric coined “Old Mine Field Road” (due to the many potholes) across Tuttles Corner and up the Peter’s Valley climb.
About a mile past Peter’s Valley Crafter’s Village, We veered left onto Brook Road, a dirt path that cuts right through the Walpack area. Brook Road becomes Mountain Road after going through a gate and over a small bridge.
Midway down Mountain Road, the crown jewel of our ride appeared. Buttermilk Falls cascades almost 100 feet off the Kittatinny Ridge. With the Appalachian Trail passing across the top, it’s a popular destination for local hikers and sightseers.
We pedaled back out to Haney’s Mill Road and hung a right on the Walpack Flatbrook Road for a climb to the top of the Walpack loop and dropped back down past the Walpack Inn. We took a quick breather at the Peter’s Valley store and continued back over the Peter’s Valley climb.
Eric peeled off and over the Dingman Bridge as we cruised back along Old Mine Road and back to the shop. It was nice to finally get in an extended ride with good company.
Easter Sunday started out on the dreary side. Rain and snow flurries in the morning turned to sunshine in the afternoon. I went out for a jaunt through the Delaware State Forest. It seems the winter wreaked havoc on the roads, as potholes are everywhere and most of the gravel is off to the sides. Melting snow created a muddy surface that made pedaling feel like a leg workout. My bike and I were covered in mud. It was so much fun!
Riding through puddles and creek crossings, turns a dirty ride clean, well, almost. The only way to get your bike dirty is to get out and ride. So what are you waiting for, put down the tablet, laptop or phone and pedal into the woods.
What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – Queen & David Bowie – Under Pressure
As the trails are covered in snow and the roads are still full of salt, I opted to take the Kona Rove on a road ride. In about a month, I will be headed up to Vermont for the Rasputitsa gravel ride. It’s been tough to get many miles in this winter, so I decided that quality miles would be better than quantity today.
I set out from Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford, and headed over to Milford Hills to climb Skyline Drive. The grade travels skyward for 650 feet in just over 2 miles. Above the tree line, the views of the Delaware Valley are spectacular.
I navigated the 4 switchbacks as I descended back to town, and pedaled over to Greenwood Hills, another private community with very little traffic and alpine type hills. The road surface here is a mix of pavement and gravel. The grade is steep as you gain more than 400 feet of elevation in about 2 miles.
I dropped down again, and rode to Foster Hill (7th Street). The two and a half mile climb to the Malibu Dude Ranch takes every bit of energy I can muster this early in the year. At the top, I was greeted with gunshots from the nearby range, which sounded so close, that I took a quick photo by the lake and scrambled back down the hill.
I recovered well on the descent and attempted to climb up Rt. 6. Well, that didn’t last long, as the wind felt like I was pedaling up and into a wall. Getting nowhere, I decided to call it a day and cruise back to Milford.
Happy with a few thousand feet of elevation, I hope the 45 degree day is a sign of things to come. Lots of adventures planned for the spring and summer, I’ll detail a few gravel rides and bike packing trips in a future post.
This has surely been a week to forget. With about 2 feet of snow dumped on the area last Friday, most, including me, have been without power since.
In rural areas, power outages take on a whole different meaning. With the lack of central water and sewers, we rely on Well water and Septic. When there is no power, septic and water pumps do not operate. Internet went out with the power and cell service lasted 12 hours into the blackout.
Today, we were graced with another foot of snow. You simply have to make the best of it. I was lucky enough to get a little exercise, as I donned the snowshoes for a jaunt through the woods with my son.
No pics of the damage (trees and wires down, cars crushed, homes destroyed). That’s for the news outlets. I just want to hammer home the notion that you have to be prepared. If you have the means, get a generator. Keep 20 gallons of gas on hand, safely away from the house. Store bottled water and canned food. Make sure you have matches and a good old fashioned hardwire telephone. Most times when power goes out, phone lines are in tact.
A wood burning stove is a good idea. I was lucky enough to have a generator that powers my entire home and a wood burning stove with plenty of wood. I owe a huge thank you to a wonderful neighbor that trudged through the snow to turn on the generator for my wife while I was stuck on a closed road for 17 hours. What I lacked was gas. I searched every gas station in the area on Saturday and finally found enough to fill my containers.
This storm claimed many lives and many are still without power or running water. Please, if you know someone that is suffering because of this storm, reach out and help.
It’s no secret that weather patterns are changing. With that said, try to make the best of what Mother Nature serves up.
Although I’ve written about this beautiful swath of land in previous posts, I’ve decided to detail certain rides again in 2018 for new readers. With that said, I consider everything north and east of Rt. 402 to be the northern end of the forest.
This morning, I decided to start at the parking area on Rt. 739. At 40 degrees and sunny, with a warmer outlook, I dressed down and headed up Five Mile Meadow Road. From Rt. 739, the gravel surface climbs for about a mile and a half. I zipped through a mix of gravel and mud sections until I reached Bald Hill, one of many communities nestled in the forest. Your climbing needs will certainly be satisfied on Bald Hill as the gravel goes skyward for 1.25 miles, then drops down for 1.5 miles to the end. The hill seems steeper from the back end.
Turning left, back on Five Mile Meadow, I dropped down to Silver Lake Road, turned right and tackled the one paved hill I would see all day. I hung a right into Little Mud Pond, a lakeside community with well groomed gravel roads. A horseshoe that comes right back out, I followed Silver Lake for a mile to Standing Stone Trail.